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Building on my blog post here, I ask: How do you improve your concentration when davening?

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See also: mi.yodeya.com/questions/190/… . I'd love to see some more techniques listed. –  Isaac Moses Jun 13 '10 at 22:04
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11 Answers

Ideas that help (and I still need improvement in this area)

  1. Contemplate relationship to H' during walk to shul. Simply saying over and over 'H' is in control' has helped me.
  2. Stop shuckling
  3. Read the tefilla in a conversational cadence
  4. Pick one and take as long as you need to read it and appreciate it in English
  5. If you find a phrase that resonates to you- perhpas is a bracha you want, underline it and you will find you read it with kavanah most days. (my latest one is in the birkas haTorah- Vehaarev na ... Make the words of Torah sweet in our mouths...)
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Why "stop shuckling"? I find it improves my kavanah... –  yoel Jul 26 '12 at 1:34
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Pray with the devotion and simplicity of a child, with your finger on each and every word that you say from the siddur.

If we walk into shul with the notion that G-d "opens His Hand and satisfies the desire of every living being," we see that our prayers will be answered.

In shul, we are in a dialogue with Hashem - we speak to Him directly. Knowing that you are able to converse with the most perfect being in existence, who is attentively listening to each word you say, may keep you interested.

Each prayer we say, in any context, is one G-d hears.

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Administrative note: This answer was given to another question and merged hither. –  msh210 Jun 4 '12 at 7:07
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Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 93:2-3

You shouldn't stand to pray [in any manner] except with fear and trepidation; not after making fun or lightheadedness or idle talk, and not after anger. Rather, after the joy [of a mitzvah (M"B)]. ... We don't stand to pray after judgment or after halachah so that his heart shouldn't be upset by it [i.e. still working on it]; rather after decided halachah. Hagah [Rama]: And this is also considered after joy ...

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Administrative note: This answer was given to another question and merged hither. –  msh210 Jun 4 '12 at 7:07
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A few ideas that help me:

  • Be the shaliach tzibbur. Your mind requires more focus and this spills over into kavana.
  • Although many say it is praiseworthy to stand during chazaras hashatz and krias hatorah, I find that sitting helps me follow along better. Do not try to do this if you took my previous advice of being the shaliach tzibbur!
  • I have a gemara seder before davening. By the time davening starts, my mind is psyched and focused.
  • Another idea which I should do more often than I do is stop davening when I notice a space out. I find it is much easier then to transition to a focused state than to do so while davening.
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Make it an avodah to try and pronounce each word correctly according to whichever tradition of pronounciation you follow. The sheer mechanics of clear, concise, and correct pronounciation will automatically slow you down and force you into a whole new level of attention. Of course, if you're davenen in a minyan you may have to skip some parts since most minyanim go too fast to allow for correct pronounciation. –  Shemmy Jun 3 '12 at 11:02
    
@Shemmy, that could be an answer. –  YDK Jun 4 '12 at 1:34
    
@Shemmy Make it an answer! –  EEE Jun 4 '12 at 4:58
    
Administrative note: This answer was given to another question and merged hither. –  msh210 Jun 4 '12 at 7:06
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A technique I used to employ, but which I only advise if you have a lot of time to Daven, was to pause during each Berachah in Shemoneh 'Esreh and think of at least one example that would apply to that particular Berachah.

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This is reminiscent of Ramba"n's advice in his famous igeres pertaining to learning Torah. He recommends finding a way that each bit of learning applies to one's own life right after learning it. –  WAF Jun 3 '12 at 2:50
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I suggest trying not to think of anything other than the the actual meanings of the words - sometimes thinking about other things distracts you and makes you forget

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lyb, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this answer! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features, including the ability to respond to other people's posts with comments like this one. –  Isaac Moses Jan 4 '12 at 21:34
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I rarely lacked concentration when reading something in English. When I have, it has easily come back by reading the same passage over again. The only thing I can think of, is that you actually understand and make sure you translate each word you say into your mind. When I have done that during davening, I have also never lacked conentration. The hard part for me, is to do that during davening, since I often feel "rushed"

In those times, I tell myself a synopsis of the bracha/paragraph I'm reading, and then read quickly.

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Perhaps pictures pertaining to the particulars of each b'racha could help! Someone has compiled a chart of such pictures here, but I imagine one could compile one's own. I have never tried this, but multiple modalities often produce multiple (and therefore stronger) associations to concepts, which could improve concentration.

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Cool! Thanks for linking to that resource. –  Isaac Moses Jul 15 '11 at 4:27
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  1. Take a minute to clear your mind and try to fee the presence of Hashem all around you.
  2. Daven to Hashem to help you daven with Kavanah
  3. Every time you catch your mind straying, ask for Hashem's help again
  4. Keep reminding yourself that Hashem and all the Heavenly hosts are counting on you.
  5. Keep your fingers on the place.
  6. Learn the meaning of what you are saying
  7. Say only one phrase at a time.
  8. Daven aloud and if you are able try singing the words.
  9. Invest each Bracha in Shmoneh Esrai with personal details
  10. Specify your indebtedness to Hashem,embellish your praise and detail your requests
  11. Try to daven near those who pray with Kavanah

This is very basic summary, and additional answers to those already provided. (From: Ezras Nashim)

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The Alter Rebbe writes in the siddur that at minimum a person should have the Kavanah that Hashem should hear his prayers and that all the kavanos should aid in its ascent. –  user1292 Jul 26 '12 at 5:53
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I find that singing parts help.

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YRU, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks for contributing your experience! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Jun 15 '10 at 1:03
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Following the exact question "How do you improve your concentration when davening?" I would suggest that the main effort at improvement of kavanah should be done before davening.

  1. Learning be'ur t'fillah and eventually learning seforim that teach the inner dimensions of the words we use in t'fillah is important.

  2. Spending time before davening to gather your thoughts and feelings and to quiet the outside "noise" of one's own thoughts is an ancient technique that was used by the hasidim harishonim, the early pious Jews.

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