The Piskei Teshuvos 61:5 mentions from the Arizal that the hand has to
actually cover the eyes. However the Kloizenberger Rebbe Zatzal held
that you may just cover the glasses with your hand. In Chabad they lift the glasses and place the hand on the eyes.
I was a major sufferer of the problem you describe, and to be honest, I have not completely cured myself of this; however, there are a few things that I have done recently that have made a huge difference in my level of focus during davening. I think it is important to remember, though, that there is no quick fix to this challenge. As you mentioned in a ...
According to this collection of notes on the siddur arranged by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi -- http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=30450&st=&pgnum=122 --
the source is Pri Eitz Hayyim, Sha'ar Olam Ha-Assiyah, end of perek alef, which was then mentioned by the Magen Avraham, beginning of siman mem vav.
Pri Eitz Hayyim is a book by Rabbi ...
The goal is concentration and that takes awareness and work. Some people naturally read slower but for many, it isn't a matter of reading as it is of focusing. The prayer isn't a race but a chance to connect with the divine -- it shouldn't be the goal to get through it as quick as possible -- that should be the opposite of the desired experience. It isn't ...
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 ...
The source is Rabbeinu Yona Brachos 32a, in the name of the Geoinim.
This is brought in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 51:7
The Mishna Brurah there (:16) says it means to say from that posuk until the end of the chapter. Shulchan Aruch HaRav (51:8) implies that saying the single verse is enough.
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (14:2) implies that the single verse is ...
Someone recently sent me a screenshot of a sefer. I have paraphrased it:
Someone had apparently asked הרה״ג רבי יצחק זילברשטיין שליט״א if he is allowed to use the "spinner" during Shemona Esrei since it is hard for him to concentrate, and according to the researchers he will be more successful at concentrating during the Tefilah.
רבי יצחק זילברשטיין ...
This is a great question that touches on an area that is so fundamental.
Before mentioning any specific technique that has worked for me, I'd like to share a perspective that has significantly boosted my Tefilla.
People use the expression "the elephant in the room." In Tefilla, I felt that for a long time I had been missing the "God in the room."
It is permitted to repeat words of davening for added intent in prayer. However, there is a virtue of having full intent the first time, and not repeating words. One can certainly say the word, and then reflect on its meaning, without saying it again.
The Mishnah (Berachos 33b) writes that one who says “modim, modim” ...
According to My Rav
Say Elokai Neshama, Bircat HaTorah, and Bircat HaShachar
Say Baruch She'Amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach
If you can put on tallit and tefillin, and say just the above passages, in the time that it takes the rest of the minyan to say all of Psukei D'Zimra, then it's better to do so, in order to pray with a minyan.
This is assuming that ...
מחשבה טובה מצרפה למעשה שנאמר אז נדברו יראי ה' איש אל רעהו ויקשב ה' וישמע ויכתב ספר זכרון לפניו ליראי ה' ולחושבי שמו מאי ולחושבי שמו אמר רב אסי אפילו חשב אדם לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאה
Good intention is combined with deed, for it is said: Then they that feared
the Lord spoke one with another: and the Lord ...
I don't believe it says anywhere that you have to put your hand over your eyes.
"(They) are accustomed to pace their hands over their face when reading the 1st pasuk so that one won't stare at anything else that will deter him from concentrating." (SA OC 61:5)
It isn't clear from the Shulchan Aruch whether it is 1 hand or both. Although the source for ...
It is not permitted to daven in front of any picture or mirror, much less a picture of Avodah Zarah.
Article on this.
A quote from this article:
Bowing to any picture can raise the specter of avoda zara. Many poskim forbid images of animals in a shul (see above) particularly on the wall toward which people bow. It is also forbidden to daven facing a ...
The Rivevos Ephraim 6:410:1 brings the psak of Rav Eliyashiv that one may hold a child during bentching.
In Chelek 8:572:1 he was asked to explain the psak of Rav Elyashiv how its ok since there are achronim who hold by pisukei dizimrah one cannot hold anything so certainly by a doraisa one would have to avoid such a thing. Rav Ephraim Greenblatt(Rivevos ...
I experienced a significant improvement in my focus on davening when I discovered that it is halachically preferable to omit much of davening in order to better focus on a smaller part.
The Mishna Brurah (1:12; see also Aruch HaShulchan 51:9) writes : "...if a person assesses that saying more will impinge on his concentration, and he [therefore] shortens ...
Personally speaking I find several things helpful in inspiring oneself before tefilla:
Poetry often works, if one concentrates on its simultaneous meaning and eloquence. My favorites are Adon Olam by Ibn Gabirol (found at the beginning of almost any siddur), and Odeh La'El by R' Shemayahu (found in some siddurim in the "Seudah Shlishit" section). To each ...
Mishnah Berurah (98:1) cites Eliyah Rabbah, who in turn cites Kitzur Shaloh, that "a segulah for removing extraneous thoughts is, before praying, to pass one's right hand three times across his forehead, and each time, say the verse לב טהור ברא לי אלקים ורוח נכון חדש בקרבי (Ps. 51:12)."
However, kavanah involves more than just removing distracting thoughts; ...
While saying this paragraph [Ana Bechoach], one should look at - or envisage - the Sheimos (Divine Names) formed by the acronyms of its words, but one should not pronounce them.
As mentioned in the comments, the Mishnah is just talking about one who reads the megillah. Someone who is falling asleep while listening will not be able to hear every word. The Shulchan Aruch is clear on this:
קראה מתנמנם, הואיל ולא נרדם בשינה, יצא. אבל אם שמעה מתנמנם, לא יצא.
This still doesn't answer the question of how much focus you need to be ...
(Assuming that finding a slower Minyan is not an option, and that you are using the Ashkenazi/Chassidich version.)
Take a 2-pronged approach:
Don't plan on saying it all
Prepare the shortest chapter of that day; very often it's the Pizmun - the one towards the end recited by the congregation and Chazzan.
Spend a few minutes before Selichot (or ...
Rabbi Adin Steinsalz in his Sefer Hasidur V'Hatefila - page 38 says there are three levels in Kavana.
1 - Is to understand the meaning of the words one is saying (Orach Chaim 98:1).
2 - To identify with the words being said.
3 - Understanding the hidden meaning על דרך תורת הסוד והנסתר (literally, in the way of the instruction of the secret and the hidden)....
The word sechvi can mean a rooster or the heart. Just as God gave the rooster an understanding of the difference between day and night, we thank Him that He gave our heart the understanding that it is time to wake up and serve Him (based on Artscroll which cites the Rosh).
The Chidushei HaRim (from here) explains it as a daily reminder that, just as HaShem ...
Sometimes, (when I'm feeling particularly not into it,) I pause before I begin every beracha of amida and ask myself:
Do I want to say this beracha?
Why do I want to say this beracha?
Helps me a lot, and I hope it can help others too.