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 of the human spirit and the complexity of mental health allowed him to be the mediator between band members and among his friends. That led 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 and works as an online therapist for couples. Weekends are usually spent surfing and enjoying the outdoors with fellow nomads.

What is Dirk’s online therapy for couples?

At the time when we were recording the episode, Dirk was creating his Flexible Living video course. Since then, he decided to focus on his personal online therapy practice, and asked me to replace the links in this post to his current site.

Healthy Stable Relationship is a 6-month program designed for ambitious couples and singles, who are dissatisfied with love. Dirk has over 15 years experience with more than 1000 clients. In the podcast, we talk how his traveling, mediating in the band, being a meditation mentor, and yoga teacher helped him understand humans. Moreover, working as a licensed therapist in the Dutch healthcare allowed him to create this dedicated program for people seeking improvement in their love relationships.

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

dirkdelisse.nl – the official website for Dirk’s online therapy for couples

instagram.com/dirk.delisse – Dirk’s 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 fan page 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 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 a 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 a few friends convinced Dirk to stay longer, and he had a remarkable one month in that country
  • “I need to be honest, there are many things that are not good about India, like politics or women’s rights” – we mutually 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 neighborhood – 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 Dirk and I 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 who 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, and 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 critical 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 becomes 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 wakes up one day and realized that he can combine rock with symphonic music; that’s how the Foo Fighters were 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 a 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 where 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 former online video course to help people find their values

In the podcast, we talk about Dirk’s video course. While it’s no longer available, it’s still interesting to learn about the project that eventually morphed into the Healthy Stable Relationship program.

  • 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

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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