06/09/2014 11:21 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2014

How A CNN Writer Found Spiritual Wholeness In Rishikesh, India

Matthew Wakem via Getty Images

Shoes off and feet freezing, I fidget cross-legged in front of the first swami I've ever met.

He's draped in saffron robes, serene and still. His eyes are shut, his mind taking him to places I can't know. Vines climb the thatch wall of bamboo behind him.

Around me, as the courtyard fills, women weep. The swami's eyes open and are as gentle as his smile. I feel the warmth, but I don't understand the tears.