I am so happy to be able to join this forum and participate in discussion of Buddhism. I began practicing Transcendental Meditation about two years ago, and it had helped me achieve a good degree of mental stability and relaxation; however, about six month ago, I sensed that there's a cap to how far TM will be able to take me. That's when I began to explore other meditation techniques. In my search, I was led to Buddhism, and I began practicing shamatha meditation. I attended a two weeks retreat in Phuket Thailand, and read Attention Revolution written by Dr. Allan Wallace. My interest in Buddhism grows stronger and stronger each day as my studying makes me realize that there is such a broadness of scope and depth to the wisdom, knowledge, and insights of Buddhist teachings on human mind, emotions, and consciousness.
I am currently practicing shamatha meditation because the very amateur knowledge of Buddhism that I have have me believe that shamatha is the prerequisite for all other forms of meditation including insight meditation. But at the same time, while I practice shamatha, I am also reading all materials that I have on Buddhism. Specifically, I am studying trying to understand what jhana is, what its place in Buddhism is, its relationship to vipassana, shamatha, and samadhi. There are all these different terminologies that seem to mean the same thing; but I know enough to know that there's an nuance which I must grasp for me to meditate effectively and correctly. This is something I am still trying to figure out for myself. So that's where I am in my journey.
Again, I am so happy to have found this forum. I have so many questions, and I am very confident judging from the high quality of discussions that I have seen here so far that I will be able to learn much. I am grateful to be able to stand on the shoulder of so many giants!