Quote:
I find focusing on "thoughts ...attuned to God or the absolute" is a way to quiet the mind "cluttered with thoughts" and again know and feel the connection with....

Prayer or meditation is a form of thought but not all thoughts lead to the experience of the absolute, and not all prayer is communion with God.
The TM group did some scientific research in conjunction with meditation and Abraham Maslow's "Peak experience."
They found that what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explained within the mechanics of meditation was clearly experienced and substantiated by scientific measurement.
Using tools or keys to engage the deeper parts of the left and right hemisphere of the brain, brought the two halves into coherence where there was non during normal activity while awake.
Aligning the left and right hemisphere of the brain allowed the mind to settle into stillness and also gave the body a chance to relax even more than during normal sleep.
There are valid tools of meditation which are born of this natural inward direction to turn the mind inward and allow the body to rest and throw off stress.
Basically there are two ways to approach meditation successfully. Using a tool that expands the intellect and removes stress from the nervous system, and competent guidance from someone who has mastered the tools and can guide another toward their own experience of the absolute/God.
The Upanishads quote a rule. "Read scripture (words of the enlightened), meditate using a proven method, and surround yourself with enlightened company."

Some thoughts create expansion but then not all of them create permanent expansion. We experience this when we are happy due to certain thoughts but then when the thought is removed and an opposing thought is introduced the happiness goes with the happy thought.
Meditation should permanently expand the intellect and cleanse the nervous system of stress rather than act as an escape from stress and contraction of the mind due to the nature of stress related beliefs and ideas.

Once the intellect is expanded and stress removed from the nervous system the subtleties of the absolute become vibrant and the intuitive parts of the brain and nervous system become clear.
Quote:

But what about the car?
I get my kids to try out the pedals and gearshift, and steering wheel (but not with the car running).
And I talk to them about what I'm doing (and why) as I'm driving sometimes.
I hope this'll help when they start driving a car themselves.

More so than having them think about it and from their own ideas about what it is like.
Always the sensible approach is not to reinvent the wheel but to get to know the person who has mastered the process and have them teach you.
We use this example in every learning institution on the planet, but very few use this approach when it comes to God. Because the ego cannot surrender itself to something it cannot grasp within the boundaries of the egoic intellect, trying to invent God from the surface of the mind is less successful than inventing a wheel.
The outside world and the physical boundaries are easily grasped in mechanical redundancy of habit, and we do not have to learn to intuit how these processes work if we give ourselves to the authority of mastery that make themselves available by our own prescribed rules and ideas.
But something that lives outside limitation or personality and the boundaries of rules and ideas, as well as in them cannot so easily be contained by the surface of the mind and the 50-60,000 thoughts that are born of habit and egoic limitation.
It takes a greater initiative and deeper level of thought to engage the absolute and to make it a permanent part of ones awareness, and then with a direct experience of God comes the ability to surrender to it or become One with it. This is the approach to the atonement or as it has been coined by the new age the at-one-ment.
People try with drugs to alter the mind but it only gives them impetus to bolster their beliefs that there is something beyond what escapes them in the conscious state of awareness when they are seeking something greater.

There is a saying, "When the student is ready the Teacher will appear."
_________________________
I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but then I turned myself around!!