(Questions and Answers are from Bhavani’s workshop “A Simple How-To and Who's Who Introduction to Sanskrit Mantra” part of the Feb 2012 Annual Yoga Hub Virtual Conference.)
Question: How and what deity would someone new to this start with?
Answer: This is a great question. As I mentioned in the session, when you choose a mantra, you should look for one that draws you--that feels good when you are repeating it. Then you simply leap into the practice.
If you are uncertain of what mantra to choose, I would suggest starting with Ganesha. He is such an embracing energy. And he himself is very devotional so he will ease you into the practice and clear away any obstacles to your finding the perfect mantra for you to continue with.
The best way would be to take on a 40-day discipline with the Ganesha mantra so that you can experience what the practice feels like over time. During that 40 days you might look at other mantras, using the book Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand, which I highly recommend to anyone starting out in mantra. There you can read about the meaning and qualities of many mantras and find one that calls to you.
Let me know if you have any other questions. I wish you all success with your mantra practice. Peace and blessings.