AdvaitaJ wrote:I've never tried explicitly slowing my breath because my "shifting the mind into neutral" always slowed and lengthened my breathing naturally. I've also found it feels quite natural for me to define the phrase "whole (breath) body" as the sensations throughout the area affected by the breathing -- i.e., the entire nose, throat, brachial passages, etc. For me, the initial concentration on the tip of the nostrils, etc, just flows naturally into a larger awareness of all the body parts involved, including the indirect motion through the shoulders, arms, etc.
You must have a very good tactile sense.
When I concentrate on a part of my body, such as the nostrils, sooner or later a kind of image arises. As if I was actually seeing my physical body - usually from the inside. As if the tactile impression was converted into a sight. I have been wondering a lot about this effect. Does this happen to you, too?
With regards to literal whole-body awareness, I find it a fascinating object of observation. I used to trigger it while driving by focusing piece-by-piece on the contact of my clothing. I'd do a whole-body scan section by section deliberately sensing where my clothes make contact. By the time I had cycled through all the touch-points, it was usually pretty easy to morph into the whole-body awareness.
I have experienced it before, too. But (except for one case) I had to work for it. My technique was similar to yours, but I didn't use my clothes but the drag of gravitation on each part of the body. Also, I rarely get all parts - usually I can't seem to access some parts of my back. To morph into the whole body awareness I practiced like Ven. Thanissaro wrote here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html
What surprised me while doing the Long Breath that the whole body awareness came by it's own. If this was a "cause-effect" it would explain why the suttas starts with the Long Breath (and not the Short).
These days, I find it easiest with my walking meditation.