It is possible to change but it is hard work and most of us need support. The evidence is becoming overwhelming that our brains respond to how we use them. If one consciously decides to lead life in a particular way, for example to engage in routine meditation; changes in the brain structure result and change the way in which the brain may behave, setting up a self-reinforcing cycle. A famous example quoted is the increase in size of the Hippocampus (which is involved in storage of long term memories) in taxi drivers who, because of their job, are required to memorize an enormous amount of geographical information.
Recent work suggests these changes are not limited to the brain. A recent study which is planned to be published in February issue of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology shows evidence of molecular changes in the body following a day (8 hrs) of intensive mindfulness meditation. Experienced and inexperienced meditators were compared. In the experienced group a range of molecular changes were found affecting the levels of expression of proinflammatory genes correlating with the expression of components resulting in faster recovery from a stressful situation. There was down regulation of RIPK2 and COX2 as well as several histone deacetylase genes. This is the first time such changes in gene expression have been seen according to one of the authors Richard B Davidson. Interestingly the changes in expression were seen in genes that are currently seen as potential targets for the development of analgesic and antiinflammatory drugs. Previous work has shown benefits of meditation on some inflammatory disorders.