Pruning and trimming

Pruning allows us to direct a plant’s growth by removing what’s dead, damaged, or in the way.  The same thing works for humans, so it’s important to learn to target our four basic “negative states” for pruning.  These include:

  1. Intrusive thoughts and judgments, such as “He doesn’t like me” or “This will never work.”
  2. Competing motivational states, such as “I wish I were doing ___ right now,” or “I should be doing __ right now (if life were fair).”
  3. Unsupportive physiological states, such as a headache or exhaustion.
  4. Intrusive emotional states, which is any emotion that hijacks our awareness from THIS moment.

This exercise is designed to increase our awareness of when the negative states occur, so they can act as a cue for a mindful pause.


  • When you find yourself experiencing negativity today, notice which category best describes it.
  • Breathe as you gently hold the judgment, competing motivation, unsupportive physiological sate or intrusive emotion in your consciousness.
  • Smile to yourself as you say, “I have to time for that.”
© Maria Hunt and Avila University