Recently I've been travelling to places, where I couldn't daven minchah in a synagogue, and in many cases I couldn't determine where mizrach was. In another question we saw that, based on Berakhot 30a, Orach Chayim 94:3 and Rambam Tefilah uVirkat Kohanim 5:3 rule that one should turn his heart towards his Father in Heaven (יכוין לבו כנגד אביו שבשמים). I interpreted this as somehow focusing my attention on Hashem by thinking about him for a moment. However, as a human being, many times I tried to visualise him, which raises concerns at least. What is the exact meaning of this passage from the gemara? How should one properly perform this in practice?
IMHO I think the intention behind יכוין לבו כנגד אביו שבשמים is to conjure up thoughts in your head directed towards the actions that Hashem does in the world in general and for us specifically. As you know, we can never even come close to understanding the essence of who or what Hashem is. It is completely out of our realm of understanding. But we can know and understand the actions that he has does in the world.
- I am standing in front of he who has created the world
- I am standing in front of he who constantly gives me life out of pure mercy
- The list goes on...
The words are: יכוין לבו כנגד אביו שבשמים
יכוין comes from the word Keevoon (direction or aim). So the idea is to aim your thoughts towards Hashem, meanwhile knowing that your mind will never fully grasp him.
Like Rav Avigdor Miller points out many times, throughout his writings, לבו in Chazal means mind. So the idea is to direct your mind/thoughts towards he who does the actions that he does
:) Hope that helps.
Btw, if your mind starts to drift towards images, just reaffirm the thought in your head that Hashem is not physical and can never be encapsulated in an image...
i think he means to focus on this more: Rambam, in ch. 4 of Hilkhot Tefila (The Laws of Prayer)
"Prayer without intention is not prayer. One who prays without intention must repeat his prayer. If he sees that his mind is disturbed and his heart bothered, it is FORBIDDEN for him to pray until he settles his mind. Therefore one who comes in from the road, and he is weary or upset is forbidden to pray until his mind is settled.... What is intention? - He should empty his heart (mind) of all thoughts and see himself as standing before the Presence (of God). Therefore one must sit a bit before prayer to direct one's heart and afterwards pray calmly, supplicatingly. The prayers should not be like a burden that is thrown off and then one goes away. Therefore one must wait a bit after the prayers, and only then take leave."