Experiential and Embodied soul care
through the great outdoors

Exploring and responding to
mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual
needs of youth and adults through
practical and experiential excursions and training.

What is Essential Wild and soul care all about?

Guidance, and support for the human journey.

Whether you’re in search of some kind of
deep healing,
you feel an internal sense of call towards
self discovery,
or you desire an
intentional, disciplined pursuit of Self actualization and the Divine,
the wilderness around us and inside us holds something for everyone

3 Core Retreat Themes

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

Learn More about the Retreat Format and Experience here or by using the tabs below

What is Essential Wild?

Essential Wild offers free and paid wilderness-based retreats and soul care resources to support and guide people into meaningful encounters with themselves and the Divine. With this intention, we rely on the natural supports and challenges of the outdoors and the rich history of the Christian contemplative tradition to provide experiential learning and practical activities that anyone can participate in.

To put it another way, the goal is personally relevant, holistic human thriving, one person and one journey at a time. To this end, all retreats are personally-tailored and accessible to all belief systems and backgrounds. Therefore, retreat content integrates holistic mental health psychology with contemplative Christian spirituality.


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. At the same time, he is a suicide survivor, dog lover, outdoor enthusiast, and world traveler. His love and passion for people and cultures has taken me to over 20 countries with plans for many more. In the meantime, he will be finishing graduate school in 2023 with a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, training that is already woven into all Essential Wild work.

Why do this work?

In brief, experiencing firsthand that personal growth, transformation, and healing are possible and accessible to all, Brendan wants to help others in their journeys of discovering, sometimes rediscovering, and learning how to live out of who they are at the core of their being.

Personal Journey

Having grown up as a survivor of trauma and mental illness early on in life, Brendan felt called to support, guide, and encourage others with the same loving guidance that he was offered. Without a doubt, he received incredible support from friends, family, and professionals along his journey and now finds joy in sharing that with others. As a result, he is committed to experiential and holistic strategies that have helped thousands by working not just with the head like many religious leaders and mental health professionals try to do. Instead, he works with the whole person to offer healing to traumatized bodies and to nurture creativity, courage, compassion, empathy, and strength.

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

Holistic Soul Care looks like…


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?

We all have a wild space in our lives.
Beyond the wild earth we all call home and the untamed spaces therein, the “wild” is the unique inner world that every human personality emerges from and can retreat back into. Often, what feels most wild are the areas of our lives that we feel the greatest amount of uncertainty, confusion, fear, anxiety, and even pain.

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, contemplative practices help us build different relationships with the sources of our anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and darkness, transforming them in the process so that we do not transmit them to others.

In general, retreats remove us from the habitual 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.

Schedule a call that fits your schedule!

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