Marla Estes, M.A., teacher, workshop facilitator and writer,
is the founder of The School of the Examined Life.
My overarching mission is to help students allow the
unconscious to become conscious. This includes working with
the Shadow, “the long black bag we drag behind us,” those
dark aspects of ourselves that we hide, repress or disown.
Until we integrate all parts of ourselves we will never be
One of the things that makes my work unusual is my use of
film as an avenue to understanding ourselves and others.
My classes take place primarily in small groups in an intimate
setting, a safe place for inner exploration. Through film,
inquiry exercises, relevant readings and group discussion,
students begin the journey inward, inviting all parts of
themselves to be seen and heard. Eventually the satisfaction
of living more and more from one’s depths becomes its own
reward. Students’ feelings about themselves tend to improve
as well as their relationships with others. At The School of the
Examined Life, this life changing passage is taken seriously,
yet humor and laughter inevitably become a part of the
Although I am not a therapist and my classes aren't meant as
group therapy, students often find the experience therapeutic.
I invite students to experience their own unfolding at their
own pace. The close network of the group provides an
additional web of support for this process. I provide a safe
space for others to explore what is true for themselves and by
modeling my own vulnerability, students have the freedom to
truly become themselves.
I live in Ashland, Oregon and am available to come speak to
your group on tailor-made topics, both locally and in other