Lupita Nyong’o Treated Herself to 10 Days of Silence for Her Last Birthday: ‘The Best Gift’

Lupita Nyong’o found her quiet place.

For her March 1 birthday last year, the actress, 35, escaped to a 10-day silent retreat in Texas.

“It was the best gift because, the thing is, my job has two main parts. There’s the acting, and there’s the celebrity,” she says in Marie Clarie’s March cover story. “And the celebrity involves a lot of giving. After talking so much, and just expend, expending, expending, to sit with myself and just listen. Our lives are so full of distractions; you go from one distraction to another.”

Nyong’o says she had always been “interested in” meditation, but, “It always has felt a little mysterious and out of my reach,” so the retreat posed quite the challenge.

Nyong’o in Park City, Utah on Jan. 29.
George Pimentel/Getty

“I was constantly wanting to leave and then daring myself to take one more hour and another hour,” the Us star says. “And oh my God, it was crazy and beautiful, because after the 10 days, it wasn’t talking that I missed …The heart of the program is about unclutching from attachments to pleasure and aversion, the idea that we attach to things that we love and to things we dislike.”

After the 10 days ended, Nyong’o flew back to New York City and listened to Kendrick Lamar’s Damn album on the flight.

“Usually I listen to music and it’s backdrop,” the Oscar winner continues to Marie Claire. “But after that retreat, I was able to focus solely on that and for it to fill my existence in that moment. I listened to him on the flight back to New York. I loved the music, but rap sometimes comes at me too fast and I’m not really able to hear it fully. But this time, I heard every word Kendrick Lamar said. I heard the musicality. I heard instruments I’d never heard before. It was like clarity. And I was just, like, wow.”

She adds, “I imagine that people sometimes get that from drugs. But it was really nice to get that just from spending time with myself.”

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