On the way to the Christine Center over Thanksgiving week, I listened to an audio program by Thomas Ashley Ferrand on the use of mantra. It's great because not only does he give proper pronunciation, but he repeats the mantras over and over, and in a few instances, he repeats them for several minutes so that you can eventually chant along with him without having to rewind, rewind, rewind.
One of the methods he mentions in the program is the repetition of a certain mantra for 40 days straight. He cites 40 days as a somewhat magical number, since it's the amount of time Jesus went into the desert, and the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree. 40 days will cement the mantra into your consciousness and results will start to appear before or around that time.
I chose the Lakshmi mantra: Om Shreem Kleem Maha Lakshmiay Swaha.
(According to Mr. Ferrand, mantras end in swaha or namaha, which means salutations. Those under the age of 28 use namaha, and those over 28 should use swaha.)
Lakshmi, being the goddess of beauty and abundance, bestows prosperity. It seemed like a good one to start the year with, so on the winter solstice I began using the Lakshmi mantra during my mala meditation, as well as repeating it to myself whenever I thought of it. The idea is to keep it going in one's mind as often as possible.
I find that if I repeat the mantra to myself during my cross-country ski training, it helps me keep the rhythm of skiing, while training my mind at the same time.
I recall during a Rod Stryker workshop, when he was teaching us about the use of mantra, he talked about how at some point the mantra no longer happens in linear time, but in a way, you recite it all at once in your head when you think of it. Try as I may, I was unable to get to that point with the mantra he taught us in that training. However, today while skiing, after repeating the Laskhmi mantra for 25 days straight, I noticed that it was happening; not only was I no longer consciously reciting the mantra, but it seemed to be existing in my brain as one whole thing rather than a linear recitation. This is something that is difficult to properly describe, I know, but now that I've experienced it, I have a new found interest in continuing my mantra practice.
Try it for yourself. Pick a mantra that appeals to you, or that represents something you want to invite into your life. Use it for 40 days, think of it whenever you can, and see what happens.
On the first day of my mantra practice, I made a $400 sale of something I didn't even try to sell. You never know how things may manifest.