The Lion’s Whisperer: Case of Touching the Shadow 3

Right after 2 camera men or guys doing the story say: “they smell fear” and drive off because the lions started to attack them: Kevin Richardson (the lion’s whisperer) says regarding his interaction with the lions:


“The interactions have always been boisterous. They have never bitten… Well how do u know if one day = one day… I’ve seen people with incredible relationships end in tears. Because I KNOW I DON’T REACT. SO I’VE ALMOST LEARNT HOW TO DE-TUNE MY REACTIONS. But u tell somebody don’t react and they go like Whoa… no 2 lions are the same. To me its like looking at 2 different human beings.”


Not Reacting & Not Generalising  

He goes onto explain how he had them from little cubs and how the mother basically rejected them and how he became their mother. And how they would jump on him from very little and never stopped etc etc. Showing here that he could interpret their actions toward him in a different light than others and thus he didn’t have to react with fear (or aggression) and prejudice as others would. The idea that each cat is unique neutralises the theorising or generalising regarding Lions which would fuel pre-dispositions and thus prejudice which lie thus at the heart of this projection. And projection is at the heart of reaction which is always caught in the fight or flight binary. Obviously there’s also a way to not react by repression. But this approach to not reacting would be when we don’t interpret or project anymore on the Lions or anything else for that matter.


Whispering is Reflective

This de-tuning from reaction of the Lion’s whisperer (Kevin Richardson) reminds me of the method of the dog’s whisperer Cesar Milan which also is based on a such a form of changing our reactions mindfully and in moving from (whispering) a more centred place. This is what the practice of touching the shadow is premised on, i.e., changing and being mindful of our interpretations on which our reactions are based… Milan speaks of going between the reactive modes really, which is the binary poles of fight or flight. He talks about being calm but assertive.

I propose here in my interpretation that whispering is different to the classical “talking-to” or getting them to do what we want. It’s more by not colouring in…innerstanding and indwelling. Notice here how Kevin Richardson says over and over how he is part of their community. he is now one with them. he even says they see him as another Lion. This cannot if we are reacting and projecting and theorising about etc etc. he is their mother. This is why whispering is such a powerful symbol and way of describing this relationship.

Notice good here that lion & dog (and Horse) whisperer here are really mastering themselves beyond trying to master the lion or the dog.


Reflexive vs Reflective Practice

It is really not a practice where we do something to the “other” in first instance. This is really the way we should train our teachers…(and all our professionals in these areas of training, management, counselling, coaching etc).

When we are in that non-reactive zone…in ourselves than we can whisper and so to speak there’s a becoming one with. Than when we bend the spoon bends. So it is really going back to a reflective method or meditative method while in the west most methods are reflexive, meaning we do something firstly to the other, the child, the employee, the dog. Teachers via practices like positive or conscious discipline focus no matter what on the children, employees etc. In trainings for managers like “The Speed of trust”, managers are taught ways and behaviours on how to make the employee true them. But the reflective approach is do I trust me? Am i self deceiving…?

My method of touching the shadow has often been brought to my attention resembles Hoʻoponopono which is indeed a meditational practice in the sense of of it being a self-reflective practice. The story is that the practitioner (psychiatrist) walked around the ward and whereas typical western practitioners would do something to the patients, all he did for six months was remain mindful of his own prejudices (in my terms projections) and heal them. And at the end of those 6 months all the patients were discharged. When he got there they were virtually in shackles.

Touching the shadow is really self management or self mastery and a reflective practice; where-as most classical approaches to training, teaching, coaching, management…are based on doing something to the other in first instance. More often than not looking more like operant conditioning and thus coercion than whispering.

I have worked many years coaching teachers, managers, sport coaches etc. in this deeper self form (of whispering) beyond didactical principles where basically skills are trained on what to do to the classroom, students, employees etc. But where there’s no focus on self management/mastery which is where the real action of the Lion’s and dog’s whisperers is.

This week I’m having several sessions with teachers called in to aid and coaching them how to deal with problematic students and behaviour in which this approach will be shared. I will be showing them via myself to become whisperer’s of their students.


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