These days my beloved Yumi resides firmly in the Lobby of his inner world.

Picture of Yumi Schleifer by a bookcase

The metaphor of an elevator, which takes us from the Penthouse, to the Lobby, and to the Basement of our inner world, came to me one day as I was teaching a couple how to “cross the bridge” to each other’s worlds.

The husband, who had come to pay a visit to the world of his wife, gave her exquisite attention. He then would analyze what he heard. He did a beautiful job thinking through what his partner was saying. And with the best of intentions, he used his stunning intellectual capacity to let his partner know that he was focusing his mind on what was being said. However, by adding this extra layer of analysis to his listening, it was as if he was translating his partner’s words into a different language. His partner did not seem to be able to relax in his presence.

I sat perplexed, thinking to myself: “How do I use this moment as a generative teaching moment? How do I give this couple an image that they can take home, and continue to use productively?”

And Hop! the image of an elevator came to me.

And this is what I said:

“Let me freeze this moment. Something wonderful just occurred. As I watched the two of you, I had a sudden image that I want to share with you. The image that came to my mind is that of an elevator. But this elevator is an inner elevator. It travels inside of us from the Penthouse, to the Lobby, to the Basement.

The Penthouse is our thinking lives. It is the place from where we have a view, and so we can see things holistically. It has many rooms filled with sophisticated computers. There is a large library. There are labs for research and important intellectual conclusions. The language in the Penthouse is the “thinking language.”

And then there is the Lobby. It is our heart place. It is the seat of our emotions. The Lobby is where we feel deeply. From the Lobby we speak “heart language.” It is personal, emotional, compassionate, tender.

And then there is the Basement, where our raw emotions live: the sobs, the weeping, the screams, the shakes, the moans, the groans. It is where we are raw and uncensored. Every once in a while the elevator takes us there. The Basement has lots of basic information for us that we cannot access in the Penthouse or in the Lobby. The more comfortable we are in the Basement, the more access we have to our intuition. There are no words in the Basement. There are only sounds, sobs, screams, sighs.”

And so, as I sat there with the two of them, I realized something basic. For a conversation to be truly connected, impactful, nourishing and productive, we need to ideally be in the same arena of our inner worlds together. There are splendid Penthouse conversations. There are powerful Lobby sharings. There are stupendous Basement communion moments.

I received a wonderful note from a woman to whom I taught the elevator metaphor.

She says:

“The elevator model has become one of my companions. I have created a game with a partner, which shows how to work with dilemmas, and how to integrate the Penthouse, Lobby and Basement in the process of decision-making, and how to maintain the sacred relational space, get to the essence, and choose your values and your actions from an integrated position.”

And so coming back to my beloved Yumi. He does not visit his Penthouse these days. Now he is all heart: the tenderness in his eyes, the warmth of his smile, the loving squeeze of his hand, the depth of his gratitude, the softness of his hugs.

As we enter the new decade 2020, I envision well-working elevators in our planetary population. I continue to put the vision on the horizon of every single relationship being a working, living laboratory for the creation of two conscious adults, with growing relational intelligence on the path to relational maturity.

May we give each other the strength and stamina to keep rooting for and contributing to a peaceful, joyous, conscious, connected world.