I'm not a fan of the whole "mind-muscle connection" thing, but when I first got back into training hard a couple years ago, I did lots of lighter weight pull-downs (not light, just not heavy). I really focussed on thinking of my hands as hooks (awesome advice, worked very well for me), allowing the weight to stretch me at the top, then pulling my elbows down and squeezing the s8!t out of my entire back. Shoulders back, chest out.
Focussing on those things made me finally feel my back after years of trying to and failing. Now I don't have to think about those things, but I still feel my back. I disagree with just throwing around heavy weights. There's nothing wrong with some cheating, but if you don't have the basics of stretching and contraction in your back, you won't get the full benefits.