North Texas Daily

Globetrotter holds meditation classes at jewel shop

Globetrotter holds meditation classes at jewel shop

June 15
12:24 2012

Nicole Balderas / Senior Staff Writer

Dawa Juliet Sangmu didn’t come to the U.S. planning to start Juliet’s Jewels – a shop and meditation center at 315 W. Sycamore St. – but she said it saved her life.

Now the shop, which has jewelry and clothing from Thailand to India, is nearing its 11th year in business.

Sangmu grew up in Dr. Graham’s homes, a charity-based boarding school started by Christian missionaries in India. In her 16 years at the school, she helped care for orphaned babies and said she learned the true meaning of compassion.

“So many of us came from broken homes,” Sangmu said. “We are each other’s family.”

Dawa Juliet Sangmu opened Juliet's Jewels 11 years ago. Recently, she has expanded the shop to include a meditation room. Photo by Desiree Cousineau

After a move to the U.S. and a divorce, Sangmu joined the U.S. Army for the chance to be closer to her homeland.

Sangmu returned to Denton after only two months in basic training, saying she wasn’t cut out for the more violent aspects of military life.

“When it came to the point where we had to be angry and kill, I thought, I wasn’t going to do that,” Sangmu said.

After receiving some jewelry from her aunt in India, Sangmu asked to receive more to give as gifts to friends.

The jewelry piqued her friends’ interest, and Sangmu began selling jewelry at local businesses. After making $1,800 in one night, Sangmu realized her new hobby had potential to be a fulltime job.

Since Sangmu opened Juliet’s Jewels more than 11 years ago, she has made many pilgrimages overseas to collect one-of-a-kind treasures for her shop.

By buying directly from wholesale markets, Sangmu is able to make items in her shop affordable.

“I live here so I don’t have to pay an overhead fee. Greed has to be left out because in the end I can’t take any of this with me,” Sangmu said.

Though Sangmu had a Christian upbringing, she has found solace in the teachings of Buddhism.

“I met with a monk in Dallas but was still going to church,” Sangmu said. “That night I had a dream that I was in a train and it crashed and Jesus said, ‘I’m Buddhist too,’ and I never looked back.”

Sangmu now teaches Buddhism and meditation classes in a converted garage. Instead of power tools and a parked car, the room is filled with colorful meditation cushions scattered on the floor and inspirational wall hangings such as “The Wheel of Life” or “Bhavachakra,” which depicts key aspects of Buddha’s teachings.

Those who attend the class regularly said they appreciate Sangmu’s natural gift for teaching.

“She doesn’t download a lot of information,” said Tia Lewellyn, who has attended some of the classes. “She listens to your questions and there is an open-based communication.”

A natural globetrotter, Sangmu will spend a month traveling around Cambodia, Thailand and Japan. She plans to return with about 600 pounds of jewels and other findings.

To give back to the place she grew up, Sangmu opened a shop called Julia’s Secret in India. The shop sells women’s undergarments and is maintained by family members back home.

“I can be quite greedy when it comes to red velvet cake in my fridge,” Sangmu jokes. “But it is also important to remember that by benefitting others we benefit ourselves.”

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