I wonder how the account of what I have experienced will compare to the other stories on this site. In comparison, it probably lacks both novelty and an element of drama. But I would still love to get some ideas from you, the readers. There seems to be few other opportunities around for presenting your experiences to such a wide audience and getting feedback on them.
The last time these breathing sounds occurred was five years ago when I lived in Ireland, just outside Dublin. I was renting a nice little flat - small, but with a closed-off kitchen, closed-off bedroom, not one of the bedsits. The house cannot have been older than 30 years, although I am guessing. It was evidently laid out for multiple parties, but was actually much smaller than the image conjured up by a block of flats.
One night, I awoke at around 4 am. I could see the time on my clock next to my bed because the moonlight was coming in through the window. It was winter, no early dawns to wake you, so I often didn't close the drapes. The window looked out onto open fields and nobody was likely to see me, so why bother? I had woken up very suddenly, which surprised me but clearly didn't provide cause for alarm. So I lay in bed, relaxing and thinking about what I would do that day.
I don't recall precisely when, but after a while - maybe a minute, maybe bit longer - I started to hear a strange sound. I didn't give it much thought at first. But then it must have grown louder or more pronounced because after a short while - and quite suddenly at that - it became unsettling and I had to find out where it came from. As I had a slight cold at the time, the first thing I did was to hold my breath to find out whether I was spooking myself.
From the fact that I am posting this publicly, you can probably guess that that didn't stop the breathing sounds I was hearing. Quite on the contrary: in the absence of my own breathing and the quiet of the night, the strange sounds became very clear, almost heavy, and clearly identifiable as breathing and, notably, easy to place in the room. They were coming from the opposite corner of the room, near the door and, unfortunately for me, near the light switch, several feet off the ground.
I stayed in bed for a while longer, thinking about my options. But now that I was aware of the breathing and knew where it was coming from, it became or seemed to become louder and, although this sounds stupid, seemed to "seek" my attention. It didn't move around though and stayed where it was. I was scared to get up and go for the light switch and thereby moving directly towards this sound and whatever was causing it, but the thought of how much longer I would have to endure the situation if I didn't make me gather my courage. I got up quickly and resolutely, moved towards the other end of the room as if I was ready to physically attack someone if necessary and actually found the light switch without fumbling or obvious signs of nervousness. The split-second before I turned on the lights, I heard that I was very very close to the source of the noise and that it definitely seemed to come from inside the bedroom. But it never moved. The moment the lights came on, it was gone. I held my breath, I listened... Nothing.
I spent the last few hours before the day really started in the living room. Nothing ever happened again in that flat.
I had heard similar breathing sounds before on several occasions, at different times of day and night, and on three different continents. Sometimes they were frightening, sometimes they were not. Sometimes they felt so benevolent that I was able to ignore them completely, sometimes they even made me feel less lonely when I wasn't well.
The character changed from place to place and time to time. Sometimes I didn't hear anything for years... I now haven't heard anything in five years, which is the longest time ever. Sometimes I wonder why, but generally I am relieved.
If anyone would like to offer any thoughts on this phenomenon, they are very welcome to do so.