Ganesha is the half-man, half-elephant god who removes obstacles and evil influences, and is the deity of new beginnings. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati, he loves sweets (hence the belly), and blesses his devotee with intellect and wisdom.
With this simple Ganesha mantra you can convey to him your respects and loving thoughts:
aum shri ganeshaya namah
This simple Ganesha mantra translates to I pray to you Ganesha. Or, I offer you my reverence and worship. The mystical syllable ‘om’ or ‘aum’ invokes the energy of the divine, ‘shri’ is a title of respect, and ‘namah’ means bowing down in respect and devotion.
As with all mantras, try to chant this one with genuine devotion, without an agenda. An example of how not to meditate on and pray to Ganesha is something like this: “Aum shri ganeshaya namah… my neighbors are so annoying making green smoothies in the middle of the night with their loud blender… They’re an obstacle to my happiness… please remove them asap…”
Personally, knowing who the deity is that you’re praying to helps make it a deeper, more meaningful meditation. But I leave it open-ended and as non-materially minded as possible. In the spirit of: “All I want to do is chant your name because you’re amazing and I’m blessed to know about you and to chant this mantra. You’re known as the remover of all obstacles and you know best what obstacles I need to reach my spiritual goal in life… And you know which obstacles keep me from making progress towards my goal. Please bless me as I offer you all my respects.”