For her March 1st birthday last year, Lupita Nyong’o found her happy place via 10 days of silence.

The 35-year-old tells Marie Claire for their March cover story: “It was the best gift because, the thing is, my job has two main parts. There’s the acting, and there’s the celebrity. 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 he has always been interested in meditation, but “it always has felt a little mysterious and out of my reach,” so the retreat felt like the perfect challenge. 

Not that it was easy. “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 leaving, the Oscar-winner says she had an intense experience listening to Kendrick Lamar’s Damn album. “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.”

Fans can next see her in Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort, Us. The horror film drops March 22nd.