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Heaving Breathing Spirit?


Just some information about me for contextual purposes: I am a college student in Virginia and I regularly work odd locations during the summers to pay for tuition. Last summer, the summer of 2017, I was living in Danville, VA but working in Richmond, VA (about 3 hours driving distance between the two). When I would be working in Richmond, VA, I would stay with my aunt and her family in their house. Just for context: my aunt lives in a brand new house (they are the first ones living there) in the suburbs with her husband, toddler, and Boston Terrier. My house is a small, also new two-story rental that shares no walls with any other building, and I live alone. There were about 6 (2 at my aunt's house, 4 at home) experiences total that I had that summer, although I'm still not sure which ones were paranormal, and which were coincidental and could have been caused by something else.

My first experience:

Early on in the summer, I was sleeping in my aunt's finished attic space (typically used as an entertainment area/man cave). She has a guest bedroom that I normally would use, but my grandma and grandpa were visiting her on this occasion as well, so I slept on the couch in the attic room. I don't consider myself an extremely light sleeper, but it's not unusual for louder sounds to wake me up. I was falling asleep on the couch, laying on my stomach. But, just as I was falling asleep (I think it must've been around 11:30 am), I heard a deep, heavy breathing. Because I was just on the cusp of waking up, it took my a few seconds to realize that it wasn't a part of my dream. I laid on the couch with my eyes closed, holding my breath, just listening for about 20 seconds. When I realized that I couldn't come up with a good explanation, I opened my eyes, and immediately it stopped. I was a bit freaked out, but since it stopped when I opened my eyes, I convinced myself that it must've been a weird dream state I was in. I went back to sleep, thought about it for a bit the next morning and then forgot about it.

My second experience:

Like I said, I had completely forgotten about the first incident at my aunt's house, it wasn't until this next incident that I was truly suspicious. It was much later in the summer, several weeks had passed, and several uneventful nights had gone by at my aunt's house. This particular night, I went to bed in the guest room as usual around 12:30, and there was nothing odd about the room or the conditions besides the fact that there were songbirds singing outside my window as they had been for the past couple nights (I looked into this, and I believe it was as a result of mating?). I fell asleep soundly soon after the songbirds stopped singing. At around 4 am (guessing because there was some time between when I woke up and when I checked my clock), I was woken up to that same sound of deep, heavy breathing. I instantly recognized it. So, I did the same thing. I kept my eyes shut, held my breath, and listened. I listened quietly for about 60 seconds, long enough to have located the area that I thought the noise was coming from. During this time, I also ticked off all of the possible things that could be causing it. After knowing it wasn't me breathing, I cracked my eyes open the smallest amount (I have this weird, childish idea that scary things won't try to hurt me if they don't know I've seen them), but when I looked around and saw absolutely nothing except for the empty space from which the breathing was still coming, it terrified me. After that, my eyes shot wide open, and the breathing instantly stopped. It's like whatever was making that noise didn't want me to hear, so it only stopped when it saw I was awake. After that, I turned my lamp on, checked the time, and watched The Office on my phone until I felt comfortable enough to fall asleep. I did sleep with the lights on for the rest of the summer while I stayed at my aunt's house.

I think it's important to mention here that these were the only two experiences that happened at my aunt's house, and while there was a decent time gap between the first two experiences, the events that happened in my own home happened almost all right after the second experience and at least once a week following.

The TV at my house:

This one is less exciting, and falls more under the category of "things that could be coincidental and explained away." At my house, the setup is bedroom and bathroom downstairs, living room and kitchen on the main floor, and a lofted area on top. The set up is that of a townhouse, but only an individual townhouse, my building does not share any walls and is not near any neighbors. This is a smaller event that went on for several weeks. I do watch TV quite a bit as I live alone, so that's why this one may be easier to explain away, but there were always some things that didn't sit quite right, timing being the primary thing. Once a week for about 4 or 5 weeks, the TV would turn on by itself, at about 3 times the volume that I would ever have put it on, enough to startle me away from the floor below. It was always this loud, it always occurred around 3 am, but never occurred on the same day of the week. I talked to my stepdad about this, and he suggested that maybe I was setting my TV to turn on at a certain time on accident, by sitting on the remote or something. That was good enough for me at first, but then after I was conscientious about not sitting on the remote, it still continued to happen. Not to mention, I had been living in this house with the same couch, TV, and remote for over a year, and this had never happened. The first time it happened, American Psycho was playing on TV which honestly scared the absolute crap out of me, but every other time it was just like a Mucinex ad or something random, so I'm very glad it wasn't a horror movie every time.

The running:

This was truthfully, the most terrifying paranormal experience I've had. To many of you, it may not seem wildly scary, but as a young college girl living alone in a city, it was truly terrifying. I was at my house, asleep in my bed when I slowly began to wake up. My first thought was "Great, what is it this time? Breathing or TV?" (this occurred right after the TV-turning-on-by-itself debacle). But as I came to, I realized that it was neither. It was heavy footsteps, running back and forth, on the floor above my head. So, let me give you some further context into the setup on my house. The floor plan is pretty perfectly square, and the stairs are all the way on the left side of the house, attached to the outer wall. The head of my bed is centered right against the outer right wall, and on the floor above me, the couch is centered right against the same wall. So, the area that the running came from was absolutely occupied by a piece of heavy furniture. I sat aware for at least an hour, just listening to the running go back and forth. I refused to investigate. Sometimes I wish I had gone to investigate just to see, maybe there'd be some good explanation that could ease my mind. But instead, I sat up in my bed, with all the lights on, curled up in all of my bedsheets. I thought it was maybe an animal, but there's just no way. It's a newly developed house, and I've never found so much as a mouse in there. And there's no way that sound was coming from anything less than something the size of a fully grown man. I eventually laid back down, terrified, and tried to clock it out until I successfully went to sleep. The next morning, I set a glue trap under the couch. If an animal was having that much fun running around last night, surely it'd come back. The glue trap is still there, and still hasn't moved an inch.

The footsteps were the last straw for me. I ran to my nearest health food store, grabbed a bundle of sage, and brought it home. I openly said that whatever it was needed to move on and stop scaring me, or I would burn the sage. Not sure if this was the right thing to do, but its over a year later, and nothing more has happened. Interested to hear what you guys think. Thanks!

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, kandm, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

aussiedaz (19 stories) (1565 posts)
5 years ago (2018-10-17)
Hello Kandom, I do concur with CuriousDee as to that what you'd experienced in relation to the heavy breathing was a form of sleep paralysis under the name of Hypnopompic Hallucinations of which I have never heard of before but agree to in principle as to what the explanation has to offer when generalising the experience, although in my unqualified medical opinion it doesn't go far enough in explaining what cause's it due to lack of understanding of consciousness and it's relationship to our reality they just won't go there yet?... This is just my theory on Sleep paralysis so you can take it with a grain of salt or take it in when trying to understand and figure out your own experience.

The pineal gland that is located at the back of the brain has the job of taking you into a sleeping cycle Rem, Delta etc and then bringing you back out into a state of waking consciousness. Basically in my view, taking you out of the macroscopic reality (physical) and putting you into the microscopic universe (non physical) where by scientific omission weird things are possible just have a look at the double slit experiment and try and get your head around that and then take into consideration what is a dream is and how to heck can people have precognition's when they are off with the fairies fighting the marshmellow man... Also try and figure out the mathematical deposition relating to our universe stating we live in a universe of probabilities, in other words, they are basically saying matter does not exist and anything is mathematically possible in theory on the microscopic level of the universe, talk about an each way bet right.

Anyway, some of our dreams are nonsensical and processes of our daily thoughts, fantasy and fears and for those who suffer from S/P and broken sleep cycles their pineal gland in my view becomes jammed between the frequency of the microscopic world (non physical) and the ever faithful Newtonian laws of the macroscopic world where you are almost written off as a lunatic or psychic hypochondriac if you have a metaphysical experience that can't be explained, you were stuck in a dream state frequency that led to an physical audio hallucination in macroscopic land that you don't need to worry about, it happens all the time.

Regards Daz
KatieOuO (2 stories) (10 posts)
5 years ago (2018-10-01)
Hi kandm,

I don't have any advice for this to be honest with you but, the exact thing has happened to me. I was laying down asleep (I'm definitely not a light sleeper) and I just got woken up by an extremely heavy breathing, it was coming from the corner of my room

I held my breath and there were no animals nor people in my room at the time
My lights were off and it was about 3 am. Once I turned my lights on it stopped immediately.
AugustaM (7 stories) (996 posts)
5 years ago (2018-09-29)
Hello, fellow Virginian! (And Cuddlebear too! I didn't know you were also in Va! Cheers!)

That breathing routine would've given me the creeps! And I don't see how you had the wherewithal to stay put during the spectral marathon! I think I may have run screaming from the house!

Given the long history of our state and the wars that have raged across it from the earliest pre-contact Native American engagements through the French and Indian, Revolutionary and Civil Wars - there are scars enough upon this land to fill scores of new houses with restless spirits before the first human tenants have ever set foot within!

Maybe as a precaution, reaffirm your house rules for your ghosties every so often and burn a bit of incense now and then. Certain houseplants like rosemary are also said to be good for keeping such things well in hand (and tasty at the same time).

P.S. Sorry if any of my comments today sound a bit loopy, I am warring with an implacable cold and as my doctor's current weapon of choice is narcotic-laced cough syrup... I am... Not quite all there... Or here... Or much of anywhere today!

P.P.S. The Va YGS members should totally meet up for coffee or a drink sometime!
kandm (1 stories) (1 posts)
5 years ago (2018-09-25)
These are all really helpful, so thank you much for taking the time to help me possibly debunk. Here's some additional information to help answer your questions.

As far as the breathing being from my aunt and uncle, I don't believe that's it. On the first instance, my aunt and uncle were awake in the living room doing work-related things in bed (the second they were in their bed asleep). And I feel like if it had been that, I would've heard computer keys clacking or something (they were using their laptops). Also, I don't believe it would've stopped when I opened my eyes. CuriousDee's theory about sleep hallucinations seems the most likely, but I'm still mostly uncertain because of the timing of everything. Also, given that I sat completely awake for several seconds listening to it on the second occasion, I'm not 100% convinced, but I'll definitely look into it some more to see if that's a possibility!

The TV thing does seem likely, but there aren't any windows and there's not actually a line of sight to the TV. The way the houses line up, my two neighbors' houses are actually diagonal to the front of my house (don't know if any of this matters, just responding to comments).

The running thing I truthfully don't think was an earthquake or an animal. We do have squirrels, but they aren't nocturnal, so I'm not sure it could've been that. And I don't think it was an earthquake because I sat awake listening to it for at least an hour before I fell asleep, so it could've gone on for longer after I feel back asleep.

Thanks everyone!
CuriousDee (8 stories) (631 posts)
5 years ago (2018-09-25)
Hi there Kandm,

Regarding the incidents that occurred at your Aunt's house, there may be an explanation. There is a phenomenon called Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Hallucinations. These hallucinations tend to occur at the onset of sleep or just as we are waking up. Those who have experienced it, describe visual, audio, tactile, etc phenomena. It can happen when one is overtired, stressed, emotionally wrought, etc. A simple search will give you an idea if this makes sense.

As for the TV turning on, I agree with the previous poster's. It might be an issue with the remote, or perhaps the TV itself? Another idea regarding the footsteps... I've had squirrels scamper across the roof that sound much louder than they should. 😉 I'm not suggesting that's the case for you, just putting the idea out there for you to consider.

Using sage and/or performing a cleansing is always a good idea (new building or not). Glad to hear it has been quiet though. 😊

Haven (20 stories) (307 posts)
5 years ago (2018-09-25)
Hello Kandm -

To me, this does sound like something paranormal. If what you heard was your relatives breathing then why would it stop every time you opened your eyes? Also, I believe that there is a big difference in the sound an animal makes when it is running, you say it was like something heavy and there was furniture blocking where you heard the noise. The TV thing could be explained as the neighbors using their remote control but when you add in the other incidents then it's just too big of a coincidence.

Also a big coincidence is that it stopped as soon as you mentioned the sage. I'm glad you got rid of whatever it was.

Take care.
Cuddlebear (4 stories) (173 posts)
5 years ago (2018-09-25)
kandm ~

I echo what Aporetic stated about the ventilation and the TV.

The running in the attic surely must have been frightening. You mention that you live in or near Richmond, Va. I'm not that far away and I've lived in the area for quite a while. We are subject to small earth tremors here that I know can be felt from Norfolk to DC. This could cause any one of a number of sounds like running or knocking. It is also possible that something ran or scraped across your roof. As the incident was a one off I would not concern myself with it anymore.

I hope it doesn't return and that you stay safe...
Aporetic (5 stories) (125 posts)
5 years ago (2018-09-23)
Greetings, kandm

Are there central vents at your relatives' place where their breathing could have travelled to other rooms in the house?

The incidents with your television reminds me of what happened to an ex several years ago. It turned out, as he suspected, that the neighbours had a powerful universal remote that caused his ghostly television episodes. He changed the location of the tv (eliminating line of sight) and that solved the problem. His house also did not share common walls with the neighbours, and the properties are quite big.

If there was a lingering spirit, the threat of burning sage did the trick or encouraged it to rather move on to where it belongs. So, you ended up helping it find peace.


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