After a busy year of working almost non-stop, including starring in the colossal hit, "Black Panther," actress Lupita Nyong'o treated herself to the ultimate birthday gift last year: a 10-day silent retreat.
"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 recently told Marie Claire. “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.”
The Oscar winner admitted that while she was always interested in meditation, it "always has felt a little mysterious and out of my reach." Not surprisingly, then, she found her extensive silent retreat in Texas a bit of a challenge.
But the tenacious star didn't quit, and, ultimately, found clarity and peace.
"Usually I listen to music and it’s backdrop,” she told the magazine.“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.”
Curious about taking a silent retreat yourself? Here are a few important things to know.
It's Good for Your Physical Health
While silent retreats are usually experienced for its mental and emotional benefits, they're also beneficial for your physical well-being.
According to a 2006 study, two minutes of silence was found to relieve tension in the body and brain due to changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain. Additionally, a 2013 study found that two hours of silence could create new cells in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is an area linked to learning, remembering, and emotions.
It Helps You Practice Non-Attachment
Mindfulness retreats like the one Nyong'o experienced often helps you to practice non-attachment or detachment. Non-attachment is a state of mind in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and is able to view the world from a more compassionate and thoughtful perspective.
Said Nyong'o, "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.”
It Helps You to Become Your Own Best Friend
Another benefit to a silent retreat, according to Dr. Sid Jordan, is the opportunity to become your own best friend. "Silent meditation offers us an opportunity to witness and calm our emotions and identify more with our positive core self," he wrote on prama.org. "When we begin to quiet the self critic and experience gratitude for all of the things that are going well for us, even in difficult times, we begin to have a growing appreciation of our strengths and gifts. We then become more gentle and patient with ourselves.
It seemed to be true for Nyong'o. At the end of her retreat, the star remarked, "It was really nice to get that just from spending time with myself.”
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