Holistic Soul Care
Free Wilderness Retreats
and Personal or Group
Experiential Practices

Holistic soul care is about responding to the mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs of youth and adults through practical and experiential excursions and skills.

What is Essential Wild and holistic soul care all about?

Guidance and support to help you on your journey by learning the skills and rhythms of mindful soul care, self-awareness, & healthy spirituality.

3 Primary Retreat Themes

Learn More about the Retreat Format and Experience

What is Essential Wild?

I offer free connection points around hiking and camping, as well as paid personal soul care and wilderness-based retreats to support and guide people into feeling a contentment, calm, confidence, and clarity about their lives. Relying on the natural support and challenge of the outdoors, I provide experiential learning and practical holistic activities to meet you right where you are.

The retreats are an individually-focused and accessible to all belief systems and backgrounds, though taught from a Christian perspective. The goal is personally relevant, holistic human thriving, one person at a time. Retreat content integrates holistic mental health psychology with contemplative Christian spirituality to assist the whole person with support, safety, love, and acceptance in order to cultivate their own safety, support, love, and acceptance.


Professionally, Essential Wild founder Brendan Cooney is a seminary-trained Christian pastor with more than a decade of experience providing soul care to youth and adults. Personally, I am a suicide survivor, amateur tattoo artist, dog lover, outdoor enthusiast, and world traveler. My work and passion for people and cultures have taken me to over 20 countries and I have the skills to lead groups to 7 countries.

Why do this work?
As a survivor of trauma and mental illness early on my life, I, Brendan, felt called to support, guide, and encourage others. I received incredible support from friends, family, and professionals along my journey and want to now share that with others. Experiencing firsthand that personal growth, transformation, and healing are possible and accessible to all, I want to help others in their journeys to discovering and living out of their true, best selves. I am committed to experiential and holistic strategies that have helped thousands to nurture creativity, empathy, courage, and internal resilience.

All of life and thriving begins with self-awareness and self-care. Therefore, to live a thriving life means choosing a holistic and integrated way of being. Essential Wild retreats and resources are designed to help every person identify and nurture their unique path and form of thriving.


Self-care, enjoyable exercise, stress management, and sustainable rhythms are essential to keep a happy and healthy life flowing.


A student-mentality, curiosity, focus, and imagination fuel and flow from a mind focused on what matters most and a vision of what could be.


Our emotions inform and reveal the content of our inner world. We will teach you how to listen, learn, embrace, and release the ebb and flow of life’s pains and pleasures.


Humility, empathy, and compassion support and sustain our work in the present long into the future by tapping into the core of humanity

What is the Wild? Why is it Essential?

We all have a wild space in our lives.
The “wild” is a unique space and place for everyone. Often, the wild is the areas of our lives that we feel the greatest amount of uncertainty, confusion, fear, anxiety, and even pain.

This wilderness lies within us as much as outside of us.

The Dangerous Wild
Unacknowledged and unprocessed mental and emotional baggage creates toxic stress and leads to many forms of pain and suffering. Research shows that prolonged periods of stress, unprocessed negative experiences, and trauma leads to many physical and internal problems.

Tools of the Wild
Essential Wild provides a cross-discipline approach to move out of the mental and emotional fog by teaching the tools to move through it. I integrate psychology and spirituality by utilizing elements like stillness, silence, solitude, and prayer, meditation, and mindfulness.

Transforming the Wild
In supportive and inspiring environments like the wilderness offers and I share, these practices help us build different relationships with, and even transform, the sources of our anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and darkness.

My retreats remove you from the systems, rhythms, and unnecessary noise that fuel frustration, fear, conflict, pain, and despair. While on retreat, I will begin to teach you the skills to respond with creativity, hope, and confidence to the unique challenges of our times and YOUR life.

Guided by contemplative Christian spirituality, my retreats and resources are open and accessible to all. One does not have to be a Christian or have any Christian background to benefit from the mindfulness and prayer/meditation activities. In fact, the non-dual contemplative tradition that I teach from is a great way to learn healthy spirituality and recover from religious abuse and disillusionment.

Experience Rest, Healing, and Freedom through Experiential Holistic Soul Care

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