To what extent we train our mind to work in a constructive manner – for example, by replacing obsession with contentment, agitation with calmness, or hatred with kindness? Twenty years ago, it was almost universally accepted by neuroscientists that the brain contained all its neurons at birth and that their number did not change in adult life. We now know that new neurons are produced up until the moment of death.
Moreover, scientists speak of “neuroplasticity”, the brain’s ability to continually change its structure and function in response to new experiences, so that a particular training, such as learning a musical instrument or a sport, can bring significant and lasting functional and structural changes in the brain.
Mindfulness, altruism, and other basic human qualities can be cultivated in the same way. In general, if we engage repeatedly in a new activity or train a new skill, modifications in the neuronal system of the brain can be observed within a month. It is essential, therefore, to meditate regularly.”
~ Matthieu Ricard, from Why Meditate?