Dirk Delisse – Licensed Online Therapist & Yoga Teacher practicing Flexible Living

Dirk Delisse is a peaceful human being that combines his love for punk rock, yoga, traveling, and helping other people. As a licensed online therapist for the Dutch healthcare system, he works remotely from sunny spots around the globe. Flexible Living is the way of life he practices and teaches in the online course, that’s designed for people looking for their values. Listen to our cheerful conversation to learn more.

Dirk Delisse podcast episode cover

Nerd on Tour Podcast with Dirk Delisse

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Piotrek Bodera Dirk Delisse in a coliving
Piotrek Bodera and Dirk Delisse in a private coliving in the South of France

Who is Dirk Delisse?

Dirk’s name is pronounced similar to Derek, but he’s fine with either. This joyful Dutch digital nomad had a long career as a guitarist in a punk rock band The 101’s but now he’s a location-independent therapist and a yoga teacher. It might sound contradictory but for Dirk participating in a concert or doing a ten-day silent retreat in India – is tapping into the inner self.

The understanding human spirit and the complexity of mental health allowed him to be the mediator between band members and among his friends. That lead him to become a nurse and later on get the necessary specialization in the Dutch healthcare system to support patients over video calls. The ability to work remotely from any location is in line with his passion for long-term traveling. Hence now Dirk spends from two weeks to a couple of months in sunny spots around Europe.

“I didn’t wake up like this” is Dirk’s regularly repeated phrase. Through his hard work, he managed to build a diversified setup for his digital nomad lifestyle. He rents his house in the Netherlands, works three days a week as an online therapist, and spends the other two days on his video course called Flexible Living. Weekends are usually spent surfing and enjoying the outdoors with fellow nomads.

What is Flexible Living?

Dirk Delisse’s approach to life is encapsulated in the term Flexible Living. Regardless of the everyday challenges, being flexible allow us to stay empathic and find the right solutions. Dirk gathered his vast experiences as a licensed therapist, meditation mentor, yoga teacher, and traveler. He combined this original mix into an online video course that’s designed for people looking for their values. Currently, the course is available only in Dutch but Dirk is planning to create an English version too.

Flexible Living website Dutch version
Flexible Living website (the Dutch version)

Think about what you want from the retreat: is it palm trees, sun and the vegan food or you want to learn something about meditation

Dirk’s advice

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Selected links and notes from the conversation with Dirk Delisse

flexibelleven.nl – the official website for Dirk’s online course

instagram.com/flexibel.leven – Flexible Living Instagram channel

instagram.com/dirkdelisse – Dirk’s personal Instagram channel

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Beginnings and the punk rock band part one

  • Dirk and Derek are two different names in English, but with my guest we stick to Dirk pronounced as Derek
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency book by Douglas Adams
  • Netflix show based on Dirk Gently book series
  • Dirk describes Dutch people as honest and hard-working
  • He’s choosing places to stay based on the friends who are already there
  • Sun and sea are the other important factors when choosing the next destination
  • Dirk focuses on value-based life and freedom is the most important value for him
  • Spending quality time with open-minded people is one of many aspects of freedom
  • Dirk get to know punk music through his favorite hairdresser when he was 11 years old
  • Green Day the American rock band was a big influence for Dirk
  • “The 101’s” punk rock band where Dirk played as a guitarist for 12 years – listen on Spotify
  • The official YouTube channel and Facebook fanpage of The 101’s punk rock band
  • Buy their songs and listen to The 101’s on Bandcamp

Beginnings and the punk rock band part two

  • The touring band lifestyle was something that Dirk enjoyed a lot, but later saw also the dark side of constant parties and being on the road
  • The band was always the top priority for all the members and they practiced a lot to get better
  • “It was like a big marriage” – that’s how Dirk describes the relationships between members
  • Dirk has been a therapist for the band members as he was usually the one to mediate between them when they argued
  • “You get the best 11 football players together, but you don’t have the best team. You have to have the one that would be like a glue between them” – Dirk and Piotrek conversation about being in the band
  • Dirk is a very peaceful creature 
  • Sam Pura (Panda Studio) – famous American punk rock producer that helped The 101’s produce their last album “Counterbalance”
  • After 12 years of playing together in the band, all members felt that either they go to the next level of they stop; eventually they all agreed that it was enough
  • They dismantled the band on good conditions and remained friends
  • The band is still receiving some royalties from their music streamed online, but it’s a pocket money

We cannot change our thoughts, but we can choose if we listen to them

Dirk Delisse
Rishikesh India the yoga capital of the world
Rishikesh, India – the yoga capital of the world – the place for yogis that Dirk recommends | Vishal chand rajwar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

India and spirituality part one

  • Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and New Age Children – Dirk’s aunt introduced him to the spiritual world when he was about 11 years old
  • Dirk referred to the time when connecting to the Internet meant using the telephone line and a modem. As the connection was expensive and charged by the minute, you’d need to have parent’s approval before using it extensively.
  • Dirk mentioned that he got his first crystals (for crystal healing) when he was very young
  • In 2018 Dirk’s girlfriend broke up with him, when he was arriving to Nepal
  • Pokhara, Nepal – this is where Dirk found good people who helped him in his difficult circumstances 
  • “India is dirty and dangerous” – that was Dirk’s opinion before he got there
  • Khaosan Road – famous tourist place in Bangkok with loads of cheap hostels, bars and street food
  • Dirk was constantly thinking about the advice he got from people in Nepal, recommending meditation courses in India
  • He Googled it and within minutes found a course, talked via WhatsApp with the teacher, and then booked the flight
  • The suspicion about India prevailed but few friends convinced Dirk to stay longer and he had amazing one month in that country
  • “I need to be honest, there’s a lot of things that are not good about India, like politics or women rights” – we both agree that India is a very complex place with plenty of social issues
  • As a traveler you can still appreciate the beauty of a place, while being aware of the dark side
  • The Indian culture is very colorful and spiritual – that’s how Dirk see it now

India and spirituality part two

  • Rishikesh, Indiayoga capital of the world – the place that Dirk recommends for people interested in yoga 
  • “Rishikesh is like a candy store for yogis” – Dirk Dellise
  • It’s a safe region and close to other interesting places like Udaipur, Jaipur, Pushkar
  • Kerala and the South of India – this is the place Dirk visited during his second trip to India in 2019
  • He also visited Pune, Mumbai and Goa
  • If you’re going for the very first time to India, then book a flight a safe taxi to your accommodation – that’s Dirk travel advice
  • You don’t need to go to India to find a good place to learn yoga and meditation – there are many good centers around the globe; start your research by going to yoga class in your naiborhood – Dirk’s meditation/yoga practice advice
  • “Think about what you want from the retreat: is it palm trees, sun and the vegan food or you want to learn something about meditation” – Dirk’s retreat advice
  • Dynamic Meditation – one of the most advanced meditation techniques that Dirk did
  • Ecstatic Dance – the free form of dance that me and Dirk had occasion to practice 
  • “We cannot change our thoughts, but we can choose if we listen to them” – Dirk gained freedom from his own mind, when he internalized that
Piotrek Bodera Dirk Delisse recording a podcast
Piotrek Bodera and Dirk Delisse recording a podcast

Online therapist position and being the digital nomad part one

  • In the Dutch healthcare system Dirk started as a nurse and over the years he trained to become a therapist that is supervised by psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) – that’s the kind of therapy that Dirk applies in his work with patients
  • Schema therapy – Dirk is currently learning about this branch of therapy
  • The online support for Dutch patients with mental health issues started before the pandemic
  • Dirk is working for semi-governmental organization – GGzE – that provides the online platform for the Dutch healthcare system
  • Officials in The Netherlands recognized that patients waiting lines are getting longer, therefore they decided to create an online solution that supports physical clinics
  • Dutch patients first see the doctor and then the online platform provides necessary courses and regular remote check-ups, conducted by therapists like Dirk
  • Dirk said that the online healthcare platform is not solving all the problems but it’s improving the waiting lines for sure
  • His friends know that physical connection with other people is very important to him, but Dirk emphasizes that he’s grateful to build intimate connection over video calls with his patients; often he sees them in their safe home environment which is good for the treatment 
  • Dirk loves to travel but he also loves his work and the digital nomad way of life become the right solution
  • He heard about the Dutch online therapists before and during the pandemic he made the steps to become one
  • This allowed him to stay longer in places and with people that he really enjoys, without the need to come back to work in one physical location 
  • Dirk recalls a documentary about musician Dave Grohl where he wake up one day and realized that he can combine rock with symphonic music; that’s how the Foo Fighters was born
  • For Dirk combining therapist work with traveling is this unique formula of his digital nomad journey
  • His supervisor was delighted with Dirk passion and positivity – this has helped in the transition to his new position as an online therapist

Online therapist position and being the digital nomad part two

  • After he got his location-independent job, he wanted to go back to India, but due to the pandemic he couldn’t
  • Dirk was looking for a sunny place with yoga on digital nomad Facebook groups and someone recommended him the Nine Coliving in La Orotava, Tenerife, Spain
  • Nine Coliving was established by Anne, who have done the Remote Year event with 50 other digital nomads living and working in 12 different cities on 4 continents
  • We both really enjoy our time at Nine and we fully recommend the coliving to all digital nomads; even if you need to wait few months for a vacant room – it’s worth it
  • Dirk works 3 days a week for 9 hours a day; the standard workweek in The Netherlands is 36 hours and Dirk works a bit less as he wants to really enjoy his freedom 
  • The team his working with is quite flexible and it’s fine for them that Dirk is working part-time
  • Utopia for Realists” by Rutfer Bergman describes that in the future where most of the work is automated by the machines, people should have a decreased workweek. That’s one of the methods were societies can share wealth more evenly, by employing more part-time employees instead of few full-time employees
  • He has a house in The Netherlands; after walking the Camino de Santiago he decided to rent out few rooms in the house as it was too big just for him; now the whole house is rented and it’s an additional source of revenue for Dirk
Dirk Delisse digital nomad
Dirk Delisse as a digital nomad

Flexible Living – Dirk’s online video course to help people find their values

Currently only in Dutch, but at some point will be also in English

  • How to deal more flexible with difficulties in life – i.e. feelings, situations?
  • How to deal with our own thoughts?
  • Walk the talk” – Dirk’s is following his own advice
  • Goal focused life vs value focused life – important distinction that Dirk teaches
  • Overcoming our own fears
  • Dirk’s project is based on Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), yoga, meditation and Dirk’s life experience
  • The project has 4 pillars: Flexible Thinking, Flexible Reacting, Flexible Being, Flexible Doing
  • It contains 7 videos (for seven weeks) and a workbook
  • Dirk emphasizes that his course is very practical and help you to deal with the difficult things in life
  • If you don’t have enough money, but you’d like to access Dirk’s course – email him: [email protected]
  • Sam Harris has a similar policy for his commercial products – Making Sense podcast and Waking Up course
  • Dirk got a feedback from one of the early participants, that the course is also for down-to-earth people, not only for those interested in spiritualism

Bonus content

Dirk’s Spotify playlist he uses during his meditation and yoga classes:

Related episodes

What’s your favorite part of this story?

Dirk’s adventure is a fascinating example of how to become a digital nomad. Even in such industries as a national healthcare system, there are opportunities to work remotely. If you also love long-term traveling, I’m sure you can find a way to combine it with a location-independent career.

What resonates with you the most? Please share your thoughts in an email or in the comments below.

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