Building on my blog post here, I ask: How do you improve your concentration when davening?
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.
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.
Learning be'ur t'fillah and eventually learning seforim that teach the inner dimensions of the words we use in t'fillah is important.
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.
- Take a minute to clear your mind and try to fee the presence of Hashem all around you.
- Daven to Hashem to help you daven with Kavanah
- Every time you catch your mind straying, ask for Hashem's help again
- Keep reminding yourself that Hashem and all the Heavenly hosts are counting on you.
- Keep your fingers on the place.
- Learn the meaning of what you are saying
- Say only one phrase at a time.
- Daven aloud and if you are able try singing the words.
- Invest each Bracha in Shmoneh Esrai with personal details
- Specify your indebtedness to Hashem,embellish your praise and detail your requests
- Try to daven near those who pray with Kavanah
This is very basic summary, and additional answers to those already provided. (From: Ezras Nashim)
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
Ideas that help (and I still need improvement in this area)
- Contemplate relationship to H' during walk to shul. Simply saying over and over 'H' is in control' has helped me.
- Stop shuckling
- Read the tefilla in a conversational cadence
- Pick one and take as long as you need to read it and appreciate it in English
- 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...)