I think I have a better idea of my meditation process. I go through cycles something like this:
1 I start with the distracted mind and what is called Vikalpa (imagination and usual thoughts).
2 After a while of inner focus things settle down and become more subtle. Vitkalpa shifts to vichara (reflection) and Vitarka (applied attention).
3 With patience these thoughts drop away for Nirvikalpa and Nirvichara.
4 That is about the best I do until sleepy images present, Svapna (sleepy)
I do this many times in a sitting meditation. This is my practice (Abhyasa)