Office Policies

We require masks, regardless of vaccination status. We schedule by appointment only and ask that if you want a same day appointment you call, rather than simply walk in. Thank you.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Why We Ask You to Wear a Mask

I get it, it’s annoying. Believe me, I know. I put one on and take it off many times a ­­day. There are times when it’s on for a long time, sometimes it’s on for less. I’m frustrated by the fact that there are some patients who I don’t even recognize without a mask, because they sought care from me after this whole pandemic started, and I’ve never seen them without a mask on. But still we require masks.

I’ve lost patients over that policy; good people for whom that one request was more than they could bear. I am saddened to lose the opportunity to care for someone over what feels to them like something unkind, unfair and possibly even unrealistic. I take the responsibility to care for my patients seriously, and when someone walks away unhappy from my office, I carry that with me for longer than you can imagine. But still, we require masks.

During the ‘quiet period’ in 2020 where it seemed we were over the worst of the infections, we still required masks when other people had relaxed their policies, and some questioned us for that decision. I told them that I was following the lead of the local hospitals, and that I would relax the mask requirement when St. Luke’s or St. Al’s did. Some people thought I was nuts, yet history suggests that I’m not. But still, we required masks.

So let me tell you why I’m willing to live with people thinking I’m stupid, or unfair, and why I’m even willing to lose business over this, because it’s something that means a lot to me.

I’m in close personal contact with people day in, day out. There’s no way for me to practice my profession without being hands on, person to person. Even though I’m vaccinated, I could still contract, and spread this virus. I treat patients who are older. I treat patients who have health problems. I treat patients who are immune-compromised as a result of health conditions or medications.

And I owe them my very best to try to not contract, and not spread, this virus.

Because the idea that I could unknowingly infect a patient keeps me up at night. When this all started, I was wearing two masks, and spraying so much Lysol on the tables that I went home every night with a sore throat, and eyes that were irritated and painful. I was doing what seemed to be the best things I could do to minimize the risk given what we knew at the time.

And I would do that all again in a heartbeat if the prevailing opinions called for it.

I do what I do because people matter to me. The Hippocratic Oath is to do no harm, and that includes trying not to catch or spread a virus that might inconvenience most, but has also killed others.

So if wearing a mask is frustrating, I’m right there with you, but I’m going to continue to ask, because I believe it’s something we can do to help ourselves and others.

We’ve lost patients and friends to this virus, and the safety of my patients means more to me that I can explain. So we will keep asking for masks until this is over.

I hope you can understand why.

Monday, April 20, 2020


“Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight.” - Ajahn Brahm. How are you developing your mental muscles during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Morning Reflection: Onions Have Layers

Onions Have Layers.

If you’ve ever seen the original Shrek movie, you’ll probably remember the scene where Donkey is trying to understand Shrek’s motives, and can’t see past the simple fact of Shrek being an Ogre.

In his attempt to explain that he’s not just a village-destroying-monster, Shrek attempts to explain to Donkey that Ogres, like onions, have layers.

A fact which bypasses Donkey completely, because he doesn’t have many layers.

I’m been thinking about that recently because human beings, like onions and ogres apparently, have layers. Your own awareness of the different layers of your soul is probably the most valuable piece of knowledge you will ever come to own.

Sometimes we come across those layers as we journey with intention into the deeper parts of ourselves, but usually it’s because life throws us something that peels back the veneer of our supposed ‘normality’ and reveals to us things ‘further in’ that we had no idea where there.

Or behaviors that we thought were firmly in the past.

In this strange time in which we live, where a virus too small to see can bring civilization to a halt, we’re all experiencing pressures and a peeling back of the layers to show what is underneath.

I watched my two sons almost get into an argument last night, which very rarely occurs in our house. I can see how the pressure of confinement is peeling back their layers, as small things that would usually not bother them suddenly annoy them in ways that they did not expect.

But it’s not just restricted to them.

With the pressures of trying to run a small business in this very strange economy, and practice my profession in a way that keeps both my patients and my family safe, I find my own layers coming apart, and have seen in myself some attitudes that I thought I have moved beyond.

In some ways it is disheartening to think that something that I had already taken care of was, in fact, still within me, just awaiting some time and some increased pressure.

Which is essentially what we’re all in – a pressure cooker.

And it would be easier if we knew when the pressure was going to end. Several years ago my wife had to undergo a medical procedure that while only lasting a few seconds, was incredibly painful.

A kind and wonderful nurse counted down for her during the procedure, giving my wife the sense of hope as she realized that this too would pass, and she knew she really had to hold on for a few more seconds.

None of us have that right now. None of us know when this is going to end, or even what that end is going to look like.

So today I would ask you to extend patience and forgiveness to yourself as well as everyone around you. We are all fighting the same battle right now; fear of what we do know, and a greater fear of what we don’t.

Each of us in our own way experiences that terror differently, as we peel back the layers, exposing things which we thought we had dealt with; emotions we thought we had passed.

And it can be really disappointing to realize that we haven’t.

If you find yourself stuck in that frustration, may I offer you the perspective of understanding that this time is actually a powerful opportunity for growth if you can forgive yourself these momentary lapses, and learn from the emotions that you feel.

As I have written before, your reactions to situations are the guideposts to your progression: if only we will learn, if only we will follow.

And sometimes it’s the very reactions that are pulled from you against your will that show you the deeper paths you yet have still to walk.

So treat yourself kindly, and know that all of us in our own way are fighting the same battle. Some days we are winning, some days not so much.

But we are all in this together.

Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Morning Reflection: The Syllables of Shame

The Syllable of Shame.

The English language is a funny thing. The slightest change, and words mean very different things. ‘Message’ and ‘Massage’ have just one letter different between them, yet they mean profoundly different things.

‘Read’ and ‘Read’ both indicate the presence of the written word, but one is in the present, while the other in the past.

As we’ve often heard, ‘words mean things’, and they can change the entire outlook of your thoughts.

Because without language, we’d have nothing to compose our thoughts with. We’d be stuck in a world of emotions run riot, never being able to process anything from our past. Instinct would rule over intellect, and passion would run roughshod over preparation.

Language is the mechanism that propels us forward into our dreams, or keeps us locked in the pathways of our nightmares.

And the difference can be a subtle as a syllable.

I’m starting to think that the most powerful words in our shared English language are often just one syllable long. Love and Hate, Life and Death. Yet the ones I have been meditating over this week have been a little less momentous, and yet they may be more powerful in their ability to move us or hold us right where we stand.

There’s very little difference between ‘could’ and ‘should’.

And yet there’s all the difference in the world. As someone who struggles with feelings of shame, the word ‘should’ holds such power over me.

If you were to listen to the radio station inside of my head, you’d probably hear a thousand different songs, or feelings, all featuring the same word that pushes me down, and makes me feel less than I wish I could be.

I should be this, I should have done that, I should be different, and maybe less fat.

The second the word ‘should’ shows up in a sentence, there’s an immediate sense of judgment, and rarely is it kind or fair. In a world of infinite possibilities, we seem driven by our common desire to inscribe pathways into the future for ourselves and others around us as we load our future with the judgments of ‘should’.

Until we feel overwhelmed and overloaded, full of a sense of shame for the things we feel we haven’t done.

Yet if we change two letters for one, we change the whole meaning of any sentence that we think. By changing a ‘should’ to a ‘could’, suddenly we are freed from the magnitude of expectation, and instead step into a universe for of choice and possibility.

And we also free ourselves from the judgments of shame.

In the years of working with and helping people, I have found that when you can help someone free themselves from the burdens of expectation and shame, their lives will be changed in some unbelievable ways.

For in removing shame, we substitute hope. In removing expectation, we throw open the doorway to choice. In removing judgment, we instead embrace the realms of possibility.

And when you set someone free, you’ll always find wonder at just how high they soar.

Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, April 10, 2020

Go Outside!

The good news? It's still okay to go outside! Spending time in nature can reduce anxiety and depression, strengthen your immune system and help you lose weight. Dust off your bike, go for a walk, and head outdoors for some quality solo time in nature.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Morning Reflection: The Questions that Bind Us

The Questions that Bind Us.

I’ve been watching a new show recently, trying to keep my mind occupied and distracted from everything that’s going on right now.

Yet as often happens when we try to run from our fears, we end up running straight into something that makes us confront them and face them, or at least think a whole lot more about what we’re running from.

And I wondered how it is that in my attempt to avoid, I find the same questions in front of me.

Then it struck me, as I sat there binge-watching a show in an admittedly futile attempt to keep my mind off of the pain and sadness that surrounds us right now, that it’s not that the questions are unique to me.

The questions that we are asking are in a way universal to us as humans, as people, as a thinking consciousness that is aware of time and the universe.

These are the questions that drive us, if we dare to ask them.

It’s almost as though the price of being human is to ask the questions, to ponder and to wonder. Sure, some find refuge and comfort in answers that are given by others, and if that’s you, know that I am happy for you, and yet somewhat jealous.

But in the end, there are always going to be more questions than there are answers, and what really matters are the questions we choose to ask, and the direction those questions take us.

And it’s by asking the questions that we make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

Because meaning is what we’re all searching for. We’re driven by this insatiable need to find a sense of certainty in everything, so that somehow, someway, all the chaos and uncertainty of living in this temporal universe can fit into some nice understandable box.

If we can draw meaning, and find some pathway through our lives that aligns us with some grand purpose, than it speaks to us that our lives have not been in vain, our experiences have not just been random.

Because in finding a meaning, we somehow find a sense of value, a sense of worth.

Which is, in its own way, the ultimate distraction. If we are dependent upon meaning, then we are still locked into a value based paradigm, where we seek some way to enhance our own sense of being more than ‘just human’, more than ‘just alive’. It's as if we needed some additional adornment to the incredible wonder of consciousness, the majesty of awareness, and the nobility of just being alive.

The questions that bind us together, are also the questions that bind us to the limiting pathways in which we walk.

Now I’m not saying that it isn’t good to ask questions, because it is. I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t try to make your kinder, or gentler, because you can if you wish. I’m not saying here that you can’t have a sense of the nature of reality that aligns you with the deity or the concept of your choice. You can absolutely do all of those things.

As long as you realize that your value doesn’t depend on any of those things.

In my life I have asked many questions, and I hope that I will get to ask many more. But I’m trying to ask the questions without needing to take a sense of value from the answers, so that I might filter the results that come back to me without any intervention or shading from my own needs.

Because in the end, the answers that I choose need to be the ones that I believe are correct, in the absence of any personal bias, prejudice or desire.

Only then, will the questions yield answers that will make sense.
Dr. Alan Barnes