I've known the mode shapes for many years but always played them as pentatonics with added (usually passing) notes.
I knew that wasn't it but that's all I had.
I watched this video below this week.
I was playing with Ionian and the guy said practice targeting the arpeggio toNes. Play with the 7th for a while until you can start to hear it then play with the others. I've known that for ages but never actually done it. By actually doing that for a week and my understanding of where intervals are on the fretboard has gone up massively.
Today I decided to play about with the Dorian mode and as usual, played pentatonic licks with a few extra notes. Then started targeting the chord tones but it still sounded like pentatonic.
Then it hit me. What's the difference between Dorian, Phrygian and aoleon? It's the 2nd and the 6th, whether they are natural or flat. So I started to target the notes that are the difference between the 3 minor modes, ie the natural 2nd and 6th and voila, instant Santana.
Then if I play a flat 6th instead of the natural I get a completely different sound. Suddenly I get where the flavor of the sounds comes from. It's the notes that differentiate the mode from others.
Maybe it's not a good technical explanation but it makes sense to me where it didn't before. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0-MPqNMTwY