what happens when you die?
here is at least one article, quotes therefrom, addressing this. originally i was looking for chemical processes, but these are interesting too.
In the personal brain/mind complex, consciousness is mediated by
the interaction of electrical impulses and neurotransmitter activated
buffers and filters. Memory is stored hologramically throughout the brain and is retrieved by a process of broad-band neurotransmitter stimulation. Therefore, we can think of the continuity of consciousness, which is based on the density of memory interconnections or the mind’s “temporal bandwidth,” as a self-generating, self-regulating electro-magnetic field potential modulated by the action of conductivity sensitive chemicals in the spark gap of the synapses.
Immortality then becomes a simple matter of creating a
non-dissipative structural resonance with that flow of Mind which appears to be the substance of reality itself. The in-between state, the Bardo, is designed to process the un-shareable experiences of a lifetime of “suffering and attachment,” as the Buddhist puts it. Acceptance and self-forgiveness, that is re-membering all the parts of a life, good and bad, leads to a point of shareablity, an increased temporal bandwidth, in which immortality becomes a simple matter of focus. I exist, therefore I exist, or, rather, I am, so that I am.
In the brain, focus is triggered by a complex set of neurotransmitters related to serotonin. As we die, as long we are calm, open-minded and alert, serotonin production, along with dopamine, acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters, spikes sharply. By paying attention to the process of death itself, we can create a feedback loop of positive, transition enhancing neuro-chemicals. This requirement for a good death would seem to be main reason why Hospice care works so well. Good deaths require a minimum of pain and fear, and a maximum of alertness, attention and compassion.
On the same level, a good transition, of any kind, requires the same neuro-physiological changes as death, just not to that extreme. Meditation, of all kinds, begins with learning how to be open and calm and alert, therefore triggering an increased flow of serotonin to the synapse. A good chi-filled diet allows us to hold on to these important
neuro-chemicals longer. Enlightenment itself, in the sense of increased
kundalini/neuro-electric activity in the brain, may in fact be a crystallization of a feedback loop of positive serotonin/melatonin stimulation. Neurologically, this is indeed similar to the light-bulb-in-the-brain effect of DMT.