Chanukah is one of my favorite holidays.

It’s a relatively minor holiday from a religious perspective, blown way out of proportion by its seasonal timing.

Chanukah was never meant to be the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. Its roots are not in gift giving or celebrating the birth of remarkable child, although the two stories do share a common thread of a miracle.

Chanukah is a powerful story of activism, social justice, freedom, and triumph over tyranny. The Chanukah story is considered by some to be the first recorded occurrence of civil disobedience.

We celebrate this by lighting candles each of the 8 nights, symbolically representing the miracle of the oil. We play with spinning tops and gamble for chocolate money. We eat delicious foods.

It’s my kind of holiday.

Naomi Gottlieb-Miller

I also love the prevailing message of the capacity of the human spirit. If we consider the Chanukah miracle — the temple oil burning for eight nights instead of one (giving enough time to make more consecrated holy oil suitable for the temple) — what results is the idea that often we don’t know what we are truly capable of until we are out to the test.

I find this to be true as I consider experiences of my own life, namely pregnancy, labor, and the birth of my daughter. I file that experience under, “things I never thought possible until I was in the thick of it.”

Sometimes, life puts us to the test.

Sometimes, we put ourselves to the test.

It doesn’t really matter how the circumstances come up. What matters is that our capacity is far greater than we know and it’s not a miracle, but usually connection within community or collective support that shows us what is possible.

This is why as yogis, we are able to do poses we never dreamed we could do, when we go to a yoga class versus practicing solo. The collective energy of the group combined with a targeted sequence and working a little harder than we might at home, often leads to breakthroughs and successes on the yoga mat.

I find this to be especially true with my Conscious Healthy Mama program. Group support is fundamental to the program and is built in to the weekly actions we take. The more encouragement a mama has from her peers, the more likely she is to feel safe and supported. Enough to share her struggles, as well as overcome them slowly and intentionally.

In the most recent call my current group had, more than 1 mom said, “I am so grateful for the connections we’ve made here. It makes me feel safe enough to admit that I’m struggling a little bit. But hearing everyone’s stories also makes me realize how far I’ve come and how much we’ve done collectively.”

When it comes to habit change, we don’t need miracles. We simply need to know that we’re not alone when we’re being tested or pushed to a challenging place. Once we know that, our capacity for transformation increases. I’ve watched these women take on some deeply entrenched habits, dismantling them slowly and creating new, healthier habits simply because they see other moms just like them, doing battle with similar issues.

It’s powerful stuff.

This is not a miracle so much as a triumph of the human spirit. An acknowledgment of our capacity. And a willingness to put ourselves to the test in order to see what we are capable of and perhaps go even further beyond it.

So this Chanukah, celebrate your inner Maccabee. Stand up for what you believe in. Fight the good fight. Put yourself to the test. Hold yourself to the light. And create your own miracles.

Naomi Gottlieb-Miller

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