in the arena facing a hungry lion and I guess I would have looked
straight into the eyes of the beast and it would have been stopped
in his tracks - you have no idea of the power of the eyes..."
That's very true, Claudia, and animals are very telepathic. But I wanted to add a note of very real caution to the popular and sympathic notion that "looking an animal straight into the eyes..will stop it in its tracks." Not exactly - or not for the reason you think. Virtually every vertebrate animal species considers a "staring, unblinking gaze" to be an aggressive one - an invitation to hostility if provoked. It will stop them only because they have to decide whether to fight you on the spot or flee. And if he's bigger than you - he probably won't run. A stare will provoke an attack.
Not many people know there's a very precise protocol to establishing friendly eye contact with an animal - including fish, if you happen to be a diver (Fish love to swim up to your mask first thing to check out your eyes...) You must literally "blink first" to establish your respectful and nonagressive intentions. It's a significant blink that's akin to a bow or nod of the head, not a flutter of the eyelashes. This says to the animal: I trust you; I respect you; I defer to your presence. Very often, the animal will blink back: message understood. After that, you can safely proceed to "speak" with the animal. You've been properly introduced.
One of the things that wilderness survival pros warn about is wearing sunglasses - especially those mirrored kind - in the presence of a wild animal. The animal sees only the unblinking, hostile stare of the lens; he doesn't know there's a friendly person behind it. Bad idea. Take 'em off. Let the animal see your eyes, let him see you blink. (And then start backing away....without smiling and showing your teeth - another perversely aggressive sign!)