A Breath of Heaven

grief-essential-cover-smLast week, I spent several days revising the follow-up emails to my complimentary grief guide, Essentials for Grieving Well. I had decided that people would be more likely to read the emails if they were shorter. So I broke up the original long emails into bite-sized bits. The email The Way of Breath spawned seven baby emails. That’s a lot of emails about something we usually do without thinking. But the breath I wrote about is a very different kind of breath — a breath with transformational potential.

Focused breathing is what saved me, 28 years ago, during the crash and burn of my first marriage. For two horrible months, while my husband vacillated about leaving, I tried everything to keep us together. Each morning, I would wake to the brilliant Santa Fe sun full of possibility. Then Wham! I would remember my marital situation. From heaven to hell in an instant! I didn’t do much breathing in those difficult days. It was as if by holding my breath I could hold my damaged world together. Sometimes my breath-holding was punctuated by hysterical crying. Which got me some oxygen, I suppose, in a hyperventilated sort of way. Then I met Sufi Master, Adnan Sarhan. 

Adnan came to Santa Fe from his summer camp in the Manzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, NM. My husband saw the workshop flyer and suggested we go. Adnan taught every evening for two weeks, and two full days on the weekend in between. There was little talking at these workshops, just hypnotic middle-eastern music, slow movement, and breath. My over-active left-brain full of panicked voices was silenced. I entered a magical present where neither past nor future exists. My worries and confusion were replaced by a profound and delicious peace and an all-encompassing love.


This love was very different from the human love I knew — fraught with expectations, demands, and disappointments. This divine love was an expansive, chest-stretching, heart-filling feeling almost too big to contain. It was so huge; it brought tears to my eyes. This kind of love is what I think of when I read the heavenly descriptions of near-death experiences by writers like Anita Moorjani or Eban Alexander.

After two weeks of immersion in this glorious state, I was ready to let go of my marriage. I recall the exact moment. My husband and I had just returned to our car after seeing a movie about a marital breakup. Great choice, huh? He was in the driver’s seat, describing his options to stay or move to Phoenix where his new lover lived. I sat huddled in the seat opposite him, hardly breathing, my body trembling, my hands clinging to the handle of the door. Suddenly, I saw myself from an observer’s viewpoint. I saw with clarity the difference between the peace I had gained from the workshops and the misery I felt in that car. It cracked me wide open. No! I don’t want to be this way! I breathed out and let it all go.

My husband moved to Phoenix a few weeks later. The following summer, I began a 25 year study with Sufi Master, Adnan Sarhan — a study that continues to this day. Did it take away the grief I felt at the loss of my 10-year marriage? No. There are physical and energetic adjustments to loss that cannot be by-passed no matter what you do. But the workshops certainly made the process more bearable. What is more, they brought me into connection with my true self–lovable and full of possibility. The key is in the breath and the present moment. They connect you to spirit, your essence, and your heart. Everything is livable in that place of clarity and peace.

Do you need to learn how to breathe from a Sufi Master, like I did? Or from a coach who knows about these things? It couldn’t hurt. They can guide you to the place you want to be with their own energy and breath. However, breath is available to us all the time. It is our birthright. It just takes some practice and commitment to use it in this transformative way. I hope my follow-up emails with their tips on breathing help those who need it. 


To download the complimentary grief guide with its follow-up emails, click here: Essentials for Grieving Well.

For another blog on breath mediation see: May 2012.


Don’t forget to breathe.

Michelle Peticolas

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Grief Transformation Coach Michelle Peticolas, Ph.D. helps people transform their grief with a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit that heals trauma, reframes past attachments and releases limiting beliefs while uncovering a true life purpose and direction. If you’re ready to shift into a whole new way of being with death and loss, a new way of living your life, get Michelle’s complimentary guide, Essentials for Grieving Well at www.secretsoflifeanddeath.com


  1. Barry Evans says:


  2. Barry Evans says:

    Well…hi again. Its been interesting following your workshop messages. You seem to have traveled quite some way down that path that I was on all those years ago in graduate school…you know…Heidegger/Suzuki/Zen/Gestalt…a path I had been on for some time and continue to follow now. I wonder if you have ever considered the possibility that Adnan was one last gift to encourage you to take that journey.

    • Hi Barry, Yes, I did see it as a final gift from you that enabled me to take that journey. I believe that every loss is a doorway, and opportunity for self discovery and transformation. I hold no sorry or resentment for those times, only deep gratitude. I learned a great deal. It was a powerful experience that I will never forget. If I failed to thank you for introducing me to Adnan, I thank you now. Please know that I only tell the story to connect to others and help them in their own journeys. We are complete.


  1. […] to another strategy of relief during those grief years: the Sufi work. If you read my blog post, A Breath of Heaven, you already know how the workshops of Sufi Master Adnan Sarhan enabled me to relinquish my failing […]

  2. […] you want to know more about why I like Adnan’s work so much, read my blog, The Breath of Heaven where I describe how it helped me after the break-up of my first […]

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