The saunas are located inside private, dimly lit rooms; mine had a bench, some candles, a glass water dispenser, and the pièce de résistance: the infrared sauna. The sauna itself is essentially a part-glass, part-wood box with a small wooden bench to sit on, and a square light that beams down color from the ceiling.
Once you’re inside the sauna, you can choose whatever color infrared light you want via a remote. They suggest choosing the color that speaks to you first, and then reading the booklet, which is located in a cabinet inside the sauna box, to find out what your color choice means. I chose yellow, which is supposed to “[increase] fun, humor, lightness, personal power, intellect, logic, and creativity.” Of course I already have all of these qualities, but it's important to always stay grounded and dream big.
My immediate anxiety going into the treatment was that it was going to be exceptionally boring to sit there alone with nothing to do for an hour. I don’t mean that in the sense that I can’t live without Instagram for an hour. I mean that there’s a difference between trying to tune out for an hour while someone massages your back and trying to tune out for an hour while sitting alone in a 150-degree box. But since this is 2016 and HigherDOSE is clearly catering towards a certain kind of person, there’s a cabinet inside the sauna to charge your phone, and you can hook your phone up to the speakers to play music while you’re in there. I chose to play Lemonade and promptly noticed that on “Hold Up,” Beyoncé sings, “what’s WORST, lookin’ jealous or crazy,” instead of “what’s worse.” That’s weird! But I digress.
The first 30 minutes went by shockingly fast. I was drenched in sweat but I felt good -- like how I imagine the beginning of a run might feel if you were the type of person who enjoyed running instead of watching 16 back-to-back episodes of The X-Files. I did some stretching, rolled my legs out with a roller, and felt my skin turn slick and Gumby-like. I didn’t feel bored at all. And then, somewhere into “Formation,” it happened. I felt myself growing more alert and awake. I wrote this entire article in my head from start to finish.
Lauren and Katie say they take all their business calls inside the sauna because it’s where they get their best thinking done, and as absurd as it sounds I can see how it could be true. I genuinely felt like I had the drive to come up with new ideas and be productive -- and not in some drug-induced way where it felt like my mind was racing -- but in a way where I felt I was thinking with a calmer and clearer head than ever before.
Around the 45-minute mark I noticed that my heart was beating faster. Lauren later told me that’s a good thing, and I wasn’t actually going into cardiac arrest as I had momentarily convinced myself. “An infrared session is like doing a light jog, so of course when you’re doing a light jog your heart rate’s going to be going, and it’s actually extremely healthy for you, because you’re getting that fresh pump of blood through the body -- ultimately, the more your blood is flowing, the more increased circulation to the brain,” she said. As someone who’s done a light jog exactly zero times, this was vaguely new information, and made me lean even further into the idea that I was indeed getting some sort of natural high out of this.