Butcher's Wood is a small patch of ancient woodland that’s just a few minutes walk from Hassocks station and quite close to the London to Brighton railway line.
As we listen, Sunday morning light is filtering through the trees, giving the wood a golden glow. It feels like we're in a realm where time is suspended, just for now.
We leave the wood suitably chastised, through a wooden gate, and stroll across a meadow towards Lag Wood, where we’re stopped by its owners, who happen to be passing.
They also give us a bit of a lecture, but we reassure them that all we are doing is some gentle exercises, and they let us pass, at last.
We are here to do some centring and grounding exercises.
We gather in a wide circle, and Alistair talks us through breathing into various parts of our bodies. I feel the group settle and quieten down, becoming more present, and starting to be more aware of the sounds and smells of nature around us.
"It makes everything more vivid,” says Irene. "The colours are deeper, and there’s a 3-D effect," says Romeo.
“Amazing isn’t it,” says Alistair, “that just changing the way you see can have such a profound effect!"
We play with it for a bit, and then try out fox walking: a slow, careful walk, placing the front foot down, ball first, that makes less impact on the ground, and also slows the mind down, bringing us ever more into the present moment.
Malex finds it quite emotional, “It’s like your feet are your eyes,” she says. Others report similar experiences.
I’m noticing that I’m becoming more aware of movement, and different sounds in the woods. The rustle of leaves, dogs barking in the distance, and birds calling to each other, as we play with this slow motion walking combined with peripheral vision.
"It feels like we’re a part of this wood,” says Peter.
I walk towards a tree on the edge of the wood that’s thick with ivy on the trunk. It's surrounded by clematis and branches of honeysuckle, holly, and thick green undergrowth. Inexplicably I feel my heart opening in my chest and I try to understand what is going on.
Alistair calls us back. We talk about our experiences.
There's an old Saxon church in front of us, and when we've eaten, we go in and have a look at the 1,000 year old murals - all neutrals, and ochres - that cover most of one end. They've recently been restored.
We leave and walk past Hassocks railway tunnel with its gothic towers, along the track towards Wolstonbury Hill.
Just as we reach a point where the path starts to climb, Alistair stops us and gets us to fox walk with peripheral vision all the way up the hill.
One by one we set off.
I am at the back and enter a bit of a trance, as I slowly sway from side to side up the muddy chalk track.
As I feel the mud, or the chalk, under foot, I notice how much my feet prefer firmer ground. And how much my senses are heightened to the sounds and smells of nature. As I sway from side to side, the trees seem to sway with me.
Half way up I swear I can smell gas. I’ve smelt it here before. Not everyone has noticed. It’s a strange smell out here in the woods. I wonder if anyone has reported it.
We’ve walked up one by one with a good 20 foot gap between us, it takes a good half an hour.
Andrea tells me afterwards that although we’re far apart, she feels very connected to everyone, to the group.
I haven’t fox walked for that far before, and it’s a surreal experience.
At the top, it is very windy, and as we leave the cover of the wood onto open downland, to walk up to Wolstonbury - the rain starts to fall, stinging our faces and anywhere that’s not covered. It feels very elemental, but passes quickly.
It’s a curving walk round to the top of the hill, and still very windy, so we drop down onto the north side, out of the wind.
We sit on the hillside looking out over the plain in front of us towards the Weald and the north Downs.
The people live along the top of the Downs. They're very connected to the trees and the forest. They clear some of the land, they manage sheep and there's lots of diverse meadow.
It's fascinating and informative.
And then we have to go. We walk back down, and take a different route back to the station for the train back to home.
The next Sensing the Land event, called Poetry of the Land is on Tuesday 21st June, 2016.
Details on School of the Wild here.