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Keeping Your Appointment with Life: Mindfulness and Therapy

What are you like with appointments?

Do you tend to run late or just scrape it in on time?
Or are you the type who’d rather be early than late – do you worry about your arrival?
Are you so busy that you get distracted and forget some appointments?
Do you keep them or cancel them?
(Do you make more than you can keep?)

So much of our lives in the western world are guided by appointments, meetings, deadlines and time lines. And therapy clearly fits into this framework, too.

Many therapists hold that how we keep or break our appointments is all meaningful information(especially how we keep or break our appointments with them). Psychoanalytic psychotherapists, particularly, can consider lateness or cancellation a sign of so-called “resistance” to therapy. (Other psychotherapists have wondered whether this “resistance” might actually belong to therapists themselves at times – resisting important feedback about their work and the therapeutic relationship).

Sometimes our various meetings and appointments clash or compete and we have to choose among them.

But maybe there’s one appointment that supersedes all others: your appointment with life.

(And how are you at keeping that one?)

Thich Nhat Hanh, a world-renown Zen master, puts it this way:

“Your appointment with life

is in the present moment.

If you are not able

to touch the present moment,

you miss your appointment with life.”

So is it possible to be late for the present moment?
To not “touch it”?
To be caught up with other things, other deadlines, other goals and just not quite make it to here, now in time?

Have you ever found that happening, where you’re ‘here but not here’? Maybe you’re focused on another time and place. Zoned out. Or riffling through your internal to-do list. Maybe preparing for some point in the future or re-living some part of the past? But not here, now

What might you lose or miss when you’re ‘elsewhere’ like this?

Writer Leo Babauta also tweeted an idea about this recently:

“Keep your eyes fixed on your goal,

& you’ll miss the beauty of where you are.”

So where are you right now?

Which appointments might you be prioritizing?

Are you experiencing any internal “resistance” to “touching the present moment” – to just feeling what you feel, to being as you are?

And how might you remember to keep your appointment with your life – your unfolding now – every now and again?

Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.

Keeping Your Appointment with Life: Mindfulness and Therapy

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2010). Keeping Your Appointment with Life: Mindfulness and Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 30 Sep 2010
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