m0rl0ck wrote:In the sutta tho the buddha seems to be talking about developing whole body awareness as a samatha method:...
I agree, and this is how I practice. I use anapanasati as a method for developing concentration and whole body-mindfulness, as well as the other frames of reference, and utilize the resulting concentration for working on insight.
I waffle to the point that sensations in the body draw me away from the breath, i guess. Maybe it is just a matter of practice and i thot that experience with another method would translate better to anapanasati.
Okay, here's the thing: I don't think you need to be quite
so strict about it. If you're attempting to develop mindfulness of the body, it's okay if you're attention drifts to it. In fact I think in proper proportions it's beneficial. Personally, I use the breath contact-point as what you might say a "perch" for the mind, a place for it to stand on so that it doesn't wander off into too much discursive thought. So the mind stays on that focal point, however, that isn't the sole object of awareness. Attention to the body is also there, as well as to the mind. The focal point is on the breath to prevent too much drifting, but the rest of the mental load goes into mindfulness of everything else.
Then, at a certain point, which I consider the second jhana, when concentration has matured and is quite locked in, the breath can be lost as the focal point and attention shifts to the body as a whole as the primary object. Where the breath was the focal point and the body was being watched in the background, now the body is in full focus and the breath is allowed to be in the background.
Of course, this is all opinion. Point is, I don't believe that ultra-strict focus upon only the breath is necessary. In fact after a certain point it ought to be dropped. However if your mindfulness is in general sort of weak, practicing mindfulness of just
the breath is probably a good way to go in developing it. I don't know how long you've been at it, but it does take work. It took me several months to get good at this, but I've found it to be very beneficial.
This section of a work by Thanissaro details pretty much exactly how I've found my practice to work: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 3.html#pre
Give it a read, maybe?
These are of course merely opinions and suggestions, you know what's best for you more than someone on the internet will.