16. This verse describes those who are not fit for meditation. People who eat too much or too little are the rajasika and tamasika ones. A sattvika person eats just right. Food means all inputs, food for all senses. Sense denial leads to frustration while excessive indulgence results in fatigue and ill health. Intelligent sense control enables maximum enjoyment as well as conservation and redirection of energy towards the goal.
Those who sleep too much are tamasika. They underutilise the body, mind and intellect. Rajasika people have agitated minds and are sleep deprived.
A moderate, well regulated life is conducive for meditation. Buddha referred to it as madhya pantha, middle path. Everyone is at a different level. You need to plan your life according to your specific needs. Inward looking people are content with less while extroverts need more of the world.
17. This verse enumerates the positive traits that are conducive for meditation.
Life consists of three processes – receipt of stimuli from the world through organs of perception, reaction of the stimuli with desires in the mind and intellect, and responses back into the world through organs of action. All three processes need to be moderate, neither excessive nor restricted. Ahara or food refers to receipt, vihara or leisure means reaction and karma is response.
What kind of stimuli enter you? Are they positive or negative? What do you watch on TV? Do you engage in gossip or inspiring conversation? Is your mind racked by greed, jealousy and hatred or are you a repository of love, affection and loving kindness? Are your actions polluted with selfishness or are you motivated by a higher ideal? All this needs to be watched carefully and refined. Or it is impossible to meditate.
One must be temperate in sleep and wakefulness. The key word is moderation. Neither too much nor too little of anything.
A true yogi is a healthy, mature human being who has understood the impermanence of life and is searching for meaning, purpose, depth. He has gone past the childish thrills of sense contact, surface emotions and intellectual excitement. Physical, emotional and intellectual gratification is passé.