The Classic Vedic literature the state of transcending is described as a state of Samhita or "collectedness" of Knower, Known and Process of Knowing. This means that all duality has merged into unified state of awareness devoid of any kind of activity. (No activity in the senses, mind, intellect or ego or prana- breath). Just pure unbounded awareness of nothing but the Self.
To simplify things Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , the founder of the TM technique, describes the mind in terms of an analogy of active mind (waves on the ocean) and settled mind (flat, unbounded ocean). The domain of TM he says is between active and settled mind. In EEG terms the active mind is represented by beta and the settled (conscious) mind is represented by high amplitude alpha and hyper-synchronous theta. This is what has been verified in the EEG literature. From the psychophysiology laboratory at our University in Switzerland we published TM papers which showed that in 1/3 of the subjects there were periods of suspension of respiration which coincided with the experience of this least excited state of consciousness. These periods allowed researchers to discover discrete periods of high EEG coherence especially in the alpha and theta bands. High EEG coherence in the alpha and theta bands in the frontal-central locus became the "fingerprint" of this extremely quiet state of awareness.
Recently Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from his headquarters in Holland has proclaimed that in the state of transcendental consciousness and only in that state the brain is fully enlivened, a state of Total Brain Function wherein all the neurons in the brain are awake but non-active. He emphasized the importance of this experience in terms of the alternative- damaging our brains through disuse. To be able to use our full mental potential has been the theme of the TM introductory lecture for over 40 years, but it is becoming more clear what this means. But wait! Hershel Toomim is fond of saying "You can't use your total brain at once, the thing would self-destruct from the metabolic heat produced". In order to create this Total Brain state the neurons which subserve the mind, intellect, emotions and senses must be awake but non active, in a collected state. This is what transcending accomplishes.
Cerebral blood flow (CBF) experiments show that there are regional blood flow increases in TM. These increases do not come from increased metabolic activity. TM is described as a wakeful hypo-metabolic physiologic state and the slowing of alpha into theta represents a manifestation of lower levels of brain metabolism. With TM we have found reliable CBFincreases in Hershel's HEG measurements with no increases in Dr. Carmen's pictographs of infrared emissions.This means that during TM CBF is increasing globally through a broader vasodialation mechanism. (strong enough to be picked up in carotid arteries in doppler tests), but not through a mechanism triggered by fast neuronal activity or increased metabolism. The mechanisms involved in increased metabolic activity have been described by ( Gebremedhin et al at the University of Wisconsin Medical College) who have identified arachidonic acid as the release factor which causes increases in brain microcirculation under increased activity conditions. These are the changes picked up by PET scans and SPECT which are showing increases in radioactively-tagged metabolic by-product accumulation.
If not inspired by increased metabolic demand what is the function of the CBF increases found in TM? It will be proposed that the increases are related to a restoring-detoxifying-enlivening mode that holistically prepares the brain for activity. Such a TM-related mechanism has been described with the increases in peripheral blood flow in the musculature which dramatically reduces plasma lactate as a preparation for increased demands on the body. Why not postulate a mechanism such as this to enliven the Total Brain? Logically we can conclude that in order to create this state of total brain function the mind must be completely non-active yet awake, a global alpha-like state. This agrees with Robert Thatcher's functional definition of alpha which he says represents the reserve capacity of the brain.
To substantiate the model of Total Brain Function we are currently employing coherence mapping, microstate analysis and LORETA imaging to depict the least excited state neurophysiologically, postulating a state of high EEG spacial stability representing the "ground state" of human consciousness (Nature's ultimate self-referral balancing mechanism). Published evidence will be presented to suggest that experientially referencing this "ground state" of the mind leads to neurophysiological growth towards higher states of consciousness as described in the ancient Vedic literature.