I tend to take life seriously and my reading choices reflect this. So when I was offered the book, Seriously…I’m kidding,by Ellen DeGeneres I set it aside, saving it for a moment when I had time to read something “frivolous.” And it’s not that book isn’t frivolous–it really is. But, I reminded myself, isn’t the frivolous also necessary? Certainly finding the balance between heavy and light is an integral part of the practice of finding union with our whole self.

DeGeneres devotes three of her chapters to yoga and meditation which are the chapters that initially got my attention. The first chapter on meditation is 3 pages that are completely blank. At the end of the chapter are the words, “Ahhhhhh. Doesn’t that feel better?” And it did. Meditation is and isn’t that–something so simple that is far from easy. How difficult it actually is to find that much empty space in the mind and yet the idea of it, the simple quiet that DeGeneres delivers really does feel so good. The wonderful thing was that as I reached that final line, I did feel better, quieter and happy to laugh at that wonderful last and only line.

Yoga, as DeGeneres defines, means “‘uniting’ because when you’re doing it you’re uniting your mind and your body. You can tell this almost immediately because your mind will be thinking, ‘ouch that hurts,’ and our body will say, ‘I know.’ And your mind will think, ‘You have to get out of this position.’ And your body will say, ‘I agree with you but I can’t right now. I think I’m stuck.'” Again, I laughed imagining this sort of union–a union I see in myself when my mind and body are united in struggling. In the context of the book, that struggle is really very funny. In seeing this, again I felt lightness, found it a reminder to surrender and get back to the flow of things.

In The Deeper Dimension of Yoga Georg Feuerstein writes, “The unwise mind experiences itself as immersed in a hostile environment that must be fought and conquered. Wisdom shows us that there is nothing to conquer. The universe is not our enemy…Wisdom is not about yet another piece of information that has to be judged and either accepted or rejected; rather it gives us a view of the whole situation and thus shows us a way out of all dilemma or conflict. Wisdom is marked by wholeness and happiness.” This passage brings to mind a smiling monk, the sweet face of a child laughing, the still serenity of Mother Theresa. There is always struggle, yes, but in that struggle there is also the availability of happiness and the wisdom that allows that happiness is one that is cultivated through knowing that we are part of a universe that is supportive and rich with love.

Back to union. Yoga and meditation really are meant to cultivate union between mind and body, but also spirit. This knowledge ultimately is not so much scientific, something to be analyzed really, though the effects of this union can be studied and measured. Ultimately, in finding this union we fall into a place of surrender and of happiness. The pure joy that is found from a lighthearted book, the lightness that is felt when giggling with a child, the bliss of lying quietly in savasana–as Rumi wrote, “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” The way to union really is through the door of happiness. I struggle daily, big things and little things get in the way of my cultivating happiness. But then I remember that it’s often as simple as reading something that makes me smile or taking the time to practice even a few of my favorite poses before lying quietly in savasana that allows me enough joy to surrender–without analyzing or struggling mentally with what I don’t have or what I must accomplish. That kind of surrender into joy always brings me back to center, reminds me that I am whole, creates union. And oh yes, ahhhhhhhh, that is right. Then I do feel so, so much better.